The Altus Bulldogs (11-1) jumped all over Coweta, 59-34 and it was not even that close. The propels the Bulldogs into next week’s semi-final matchup with OKC Bishop McGuiness at a neutral site for the quarterfinals of Class 5A playoffs. This will be the first time the Bulldogs have played Bishop McGuiness since 1997. The location and time of the semi-final game will be Friday night at 7 p.m. inside Cameron Stadium in Lawton.
Bishop McGuiness scored twice in the final two minutes against McAlester, recovered an onside kick and with one tick on the clock remaining. McAlester missed a 37-yard field goal that would have won the game.
The Bulldogs clobbering of Coweta was far less dramatic than the McAlester/McGuiness final. However, for Bulldog fans making the 4+ hour drive east, the outcome of the Altus game was no less enjoyable. Coweta looked stunned from the outset of the game. Before Coweta had ever snapped the ball on offense, the Bulldogs had already built a 14-0 lead.
Following Taven Birdow’s third touchdown with 1:28 left in the first quarter, Coweta answered with their second score pulling within eight points at 21-13. This was the closest the game would get the rest of the way.
In what proved too much for Coweta to recover from, the opening sequence of the game set the tone for what would follow. The Bulldogs took the opening kick on a fair catch at the 29 yard line. From there, the Bulldogs marched 71 yards in four minutes punctuated by a Taven Birdow blast up the middle from a yard out. The key play of the drive came on a Jayden Benway to Tito Jones completion down inside the five yard line. After Gabe Barton added the point after.
Coweta fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Bulldogs again were in business deep in Tigers’ territory. Birdow would punch it in to cap the drive. Barton added the point after and at 14-0, Altus was in complete control. The four minute time of possession would be the longest the Bulldog offense would have the ball all night. Several Bulldog scores came with less than two minutes of possession time. A few scores came after the Bulldogs had possession for less than a minute.
The Tigers would not score again until 12 seconds remaining in the third quarter. By then the Bulldogs were sitting on 52 points of their own and the starters were resting comfortably on the sidelines free from harm. The Bulldogs’ flexbone system again proved too much for another opponent as Bulldog ball carriers were running free all night long. The Bulldogs put 534 total yards on Coweta. Quarterback, Jayden Benway, was again masterful in his execution of the offense. Again, Benway’s instant quick reads of the flex option were spot on and his leadership was no less important as the Bulldogs have yet to turn the ball over in the playoffs.
The Bulldog lineman on both sides of the ball dictated the outcome in the trenches. Offensively, the Bulldogs had room and time to work the schemes. Defensively, the Bulldogs had pressure all game long against a team very much use to protecting their passer.
On the other side of the ball, Benway shines again adding another two interceptions to his already record breaking season. Both interceptions averted Coweta touchdowns and it should be obvious by now to any team scouting the Bulldogs that passing on the Bulldogs comes with consequences.
Taven Birdow was again the workhorse for the Bulldogs. Taven might as well have worn a saddle for most of his runs in the first half as he literally carried multiple Coweta defenders down the field for extra yardage. All but one of Taven’s carries came in the first half as well as all four of his touchdowns.
Gabe Barton was a perfect 8 for 8 on extra points and also added a 34-yard field goal in the first quarter. Barton’s 8 extra points made left him just one away from yet another record for the Bulldogs.
There will be enough time to discuss records later. However, one team record has been claimed by this 2015 Bulldog team that needs to be mentioned today.
The single season total yards record of 5,087 yards by the 1971 Bulldogs has fallen. After Friday’s 543 total yards effort against Coweta, the Bulldogs have compiled 5,369 total yards of offense and will add to that next week. That team record had stood for 44 years. The 1971 bunch, quarterbacked by Scotty Mckee as he ran the brand new wishbone option offense, won Altus’ only state championship.
This will be the Bulldogs first time to play in the 13th week of the season since 2004. Bulldogs’ coach, Matt Terry, was the quarterback on that team. This week comes with its own set of challenges for the Bulldogs. With a game on Friday or Saturday, this means the Bulldogs will have to gather and prepare in practice on Thanksgiving Day.
This team continues to prove itself a “Brotherhood.” They claim to be a family. We see evidence of it on and off the field every week. What better way for these boys to spend the holiday than to gather as a family.
GO BULLDOGS!! KEEP ON GOING!!
Reach Brad Gilbert@482-1221 ext. 2076