By Ron Holt
MOORE – For a half here last Friday night, Westmoore’s footballers recorded a couple of firsts while also clinging to upset hopes in a crucial Class 6A-I District 1 game with unbeaten and top-ranked Bixby at Moore Schools Stadium.
For the first time this season, Bixby didn’t score on its opening possession while Westmoore also became the first opponent through seven games to score on the Spartans in the first half. The Jaguars scored on two long-distance passing plays and on a pass interception return. The momentum, however, was short-lived.
Bixby withstood the speedy Jaguars early success, regrouping to seize control in the second half while rolling to a 78-28 victory in a battle of the only two undefeated teams in district play. The Spartans improved to 8-0 overall and to 5-0 while Westmoore dropped to 5-3 and 4-1.
“They are super talented, and they have tons of guys who can run,” Bixby head coach Loren Montgomery said of the Jaguars. “You notice in the back end when we break a run and what’s normally a touchdown is a 12-yard gain. They are really good … that was a good game for us to get some work.”
The Spartans reached the scoreboard on its second possession using senor Jett Turner’s 20-yard run behind solid blocking and Yetxiel Perez’s 17-yard run off a reverse in moving the ball to the Jaguars’ 27-yard line. Two plays later, Turner burst through a gaping hole for a 25-yard TD with 7:23 left in the first quarter. Troy Nguyen added the conversion kick for a 7-0 lead.
On Westmoore’s second possession, quarterback MJ Graham’s rifled a quick pass in the flat to Oklahoma commit Mykel Patterson-McDonald who broke through the Spartan defense and won a foot race to the end zone for a 69-yard touchdown tying the game at 7-all and exciting the home crowd with 6:27 remaining.
Bixby wasted little time regaining the lead on its next possession which featured a 16-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Carson Kirby to sophomore tight end Cord Nolan and a 15-yard personal foul on the Jaguars. Two plays later, junior receiver Blake Hogshooter made a leaping grab of a pass from Kirby covering 30 yards to the hosts’ two-yard line.
Senior Cooper Parker ran the final two yards into the end zone and Nguyen kicked the conversion as Bixby took a 14-7 lead with 4:17 left in the first stanza.
The Spartan lead increased to 22-7 when senior Kordell Gouldsby, who returned to the field after missing the past three games, impressively returned a Jaguar punt 60 yards for a touchdown while Parker ran for the two-point conversion with 3:13 showing. It was Gouldsby’s third punt return for a TD this season.
“We take a lot of pride in our special teams,” said Gouldsby, who finished with five carries for 47 yards rushing and caught five passes for 58 yards. “That’s a big role on our team and in winning football games. We try to do whatever we can in any phase to help the team.
“It was a pretty good game, but we’re not satisfied … we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ll try to improve off this film next week … we’ll just build on this,” he said. “I feel great. I feel better than I did at the start of this season. I’ve just been working hard and learning from my mistakes. That’s all you can do.”
Gouldsby knew he and the Spartans were facing a challenge against the talented Jaguars. “I’m always up for the challenge, it lights the fire under me and gets me going,” he added.
Parker’s sack of the Jaguars’ Graham for a 13-yard loss ended the Jaguars’ next possession, forcing a punt which the Spartans grabbed at the WHS 41-yard line. Bixby’s six-play drive ended in a scrambling 13-yard TD pass play from Kirby to senior Sam McCormick for a 29-7 BHS lead with only 55 seconds left.
Bixby increased its lead to 36-7 with 9:21 left in the second quarter as the Spartans’ six-play drive ended in a one-yard TD plunge by Turner.
Westmoore clawed back into contention with a stunning 83-yard TD pass pay from Graham to his brother Mishaun Graham, trimming Bixby’s advantage to 36-14 with only 1:46 remaining. The Jaguars struck again with 38 seconds left in the opening half when linebacker Tanner Fallwell intercepted a rushed pass by Kirby and returned it 39 yards for a TD, narrowing the halftime deficit to 36-21.
“We ran the ball really well tonight as long as we weren’t behind the chains,” coach Montgomery said “I thought we played pretty good defense. We gave up a couple of explosive plays and we gave them six points on a pick six. I thought we were physical and hopefully we can keep getting healthy.”
Offensively, Bixby sophomore quarterback Carson Kirby was 22-of-31 passing for 252 yards and three touchdowns while being intercepted once. Jett Turner rushed 14 times for 80 yards and two scores as the Spartans averaged 7.0 yards per carry.
Early in the third quarter, Westmoore’s Graham was being pressured by BHS senior defensive tackle Justin Kirk when he fired an ill-advised pass that Turner intercepted and returned 20 yards to the hosts’ 10-yard line.
Parker ran to his left behind a block by senior Payton Hawkins before finding daylight for a 15-yard TD and 43-21 Spartan lead with 11:02 showing in the third stanza.
An 18-yard TD pass play from Kirby to junior Blake Hogshooter gave Bixby a 50-21 lead with 8:15 left in the third quarter. It was Hogshooter’s third TD reception this season.
“It felt good to play well against a really good team. They’re the best team we’ve played so far,” said the 6-4, 185-pound Hogshooter, who finished with five pass receptions for 96 yards and one score. “Coach (Tyler) Schneider sees what coverages their DBs are playing, and he knows where to put us.
“I’ve improved on my route running, speed and jump balls this year,” he added. “I’ve improved on everything because we work so hard in the offseason.”
Westmoore capitalized on an eight-play drive to score its final points as Graham reversed his field, scampering four yards for a TD at the 1:26 mark of the period making it a 50-28 game.
Three plays later, Bixby scored on a 20-yard pass from Kirby to senior Garrett Vaughn. Nyugen’s conversion kick gave Bixby a 57-28 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Bixby’s defense entered the scoring column at the 10:33 mark of the fourth quarter when Perez jumped a quick pass to the outside by Graham, easily scoring from 30 yards out. Nugyen’s kick increased Bixby’s cushion to 64-28.
The Spartans’ scoring parade ended after a 15-yard tackle-breaking TD burst by senior running back Cody Crull and a 17-yard TD sprint by reserve quarterback Stone Turner with 5:58 remaining.
“Jett got a little banged up and it was just next guy up. I’m there in practice every week so it was nothing new,” said Crull, who ended with 46 rushing yards on eight carries. “I was ready. I’m a little tired and I’ll probably wake up a little sore but it’s fun and getting the touchdown was good, too.
“Of course, it’s the big guys on the line who do most of the work. I just follow the big guys and the tight ends. This road trip was probably one of our hardest,” he added. “It’s a long drive, there weren’t a lot of fans driving down for the game and it’s fall break so not a lot of students were here. We got off to a little slow start, but we’ll watch the film and correct everything.”
After giving up 21 first half points, Bixby’s defense limited the Jaguars to a four-yard TD run by MJ Graham in the third quarter. Westmoore finished the game with 17 rushing yards on 25 attempts and 287 yards of total offense.
“It was a really good opportunity for us to see adversity,” said Bixby senior linebacker Hank Puckett, who led the Spartans in tackles with a season high 14 tackles including six solo stops, two tackles for loss and one sack “We gave up three touchdowns in the first half, but we were excited to compete in the second half.
“We knew this was the situation we worked for … we knew the starters weren’t getting pulled at halftime. We were excited about getting to play a full game. We started super-fast in the second half with Jett getting his interception and then Coop (Cooper Parker) scoring on the jumbo package, so we eliminated false hope.
“Obviously we missed some tackles since they are extremely fast and extremely shifty,” added Puckett, Bixby’s season tackle leader with 73 total tackles. “In my opinion, this was the best team we’ve played so far. It was exciting to get to play a game like this.”
Spartan senior Colton Kaiser was credited with nine total tackles, five solos, while Parker had six tackles, three unassisted, and one sack. Gouldsby, Turner and senior defensive lineman Justin Kirk each had five tackles.
Kirk continued his disruptive play with four solo tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack. Kirk leads Bixby with 6.5 sacks. Senior lineman Payton Hawkins contributed four tackles, three unassisted.
NEXT GAME – Bixby completes the Moore trifecta when the Spartans entertain the No. 8 Moore Lions Friday (Oct. 27) in a District 1 game at Lee Snider Stadium. Earlier this season, Bixby defeated Southmoore and Westmoore both at Moore Schools Stadium.
Kickoff for the Senior Night game is set for 7 p.m. Prior to Friday’s kickoff, Spartan senior football players and their parents will be introduced. The game will be broadcast by The Sports Animal, 91.7 FM with Shawn Tiemann, who is into his ninth season broadcasting Spartan football, handling the play-by-play and Mark Wozniak, who is into his fourth season, providing color commentary.
Moore, coached by Greg Bryant, is 4-4 on the season and 1-4 in district play. The Lions suffered a hard-fought 29-26 loss against Norman North last Thursday. This season, the Lions defeated Edmond Memorial (31-28), Edmond North (31-28) and defeated Norman (43-42) in non-league play.
In district play, Moore lost to Westmoore (37-33) and Enid (49-42) before knocking off Southmoore (45-0). The Lions lost 31-6 at Jenks prior to losing to Norman North.
The Lions are led by junior quarterback Malikai Miller, senior running back Cameron Hayes and junior receiver CJ Simon.
In last year’s first ever meeting between the two schools, Bixby romped at Moore, 64-7. Moore, 4-6 in 2022, ended with seven turnovers including six pass interceptions. Spartan senior wide receiver-defensive back Cale Fugate intercepted four passes returning two for touchdowns. He also caught two TD passes.
NOTABLES – Bixby, ranked No. 43 nationally by MaxPreps last week, has won 69 of its last 70 games including 11 games in a row. … Bixby scored in all three phases of the game against Westmoore. It was the fifth time this season, the Spartans accomplished that significant feat. … Bixby and Westmoore combined for 26 penalties for 150 yards. The Jaguars, who were flagged multiple times for personal fouls, had 15 penalties for 80 yards. … Speedy sophomore quarterback Stone Turner has carried the ball 18 times for 134 yards in reserve duty this season, scoring three touchdowns. … Westmoore quarterback MJ Graham was 13-of-27 passing for 270 yards and two TDs while being intercepted twice. Graham’s brother Mishaun caught three passes for 111 yards and one TD. … Bixby stands alone atop District 1 with the 5-0 record while Westmoore (5-3, 4-1) and Jenks (5-3, 4-1) are next followed by Norman North (6-2, 3-2, Broken Arrow (2-6, 2-3), Enid (2-6, 1-4), Moore and Southmoore (0-8, 0-5). In other district games last week, Jenks won at Southmoore, 40-7, and Broken Arrow won at Enid, 44-20. In other league games Friday, Westmoore visits Norman North, Jenks is at Broken Arrow and Southmoore hosts Enid.