6A-II No. 3 Choctaw stormed into Moore Schools Stadium and left with a three-touchdown win over 6A-I opponent Westmoore on Thursday night.
The game posed several questions around each team, some of which were answered in the 29-10 decision, and others remain unsolved.
Five keys to the game
Player of the game — Cash Williams: Where Westmoore’s offense struggled, Chcotaw’s flourished, and Williams put on a masterclass for dual-threat quarterbacks. He rushed for 197 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 158 and one score as the Yellow Jackets erupted in spurts — bear in mind, all while sharing reps with fellow Choctaw quarterback Landon Gatson. Williams ran in an 80-yard touchdown on Choctaw’s first offensive possession and continually abused Westmoore’s defense where he had the chance.
Michael Graham Jr. can move: The last thing Choctaw wanted to see by the end of the game Thursday night was a scrambling Westmoore quarterback. Houston commit Michael Graham Jr., who transferred to the Jaguars from Southeast this past offseason, showed off his wheels more than once, including a 46-yard touchdown run early in the second half. In every sticky situation, he seemed to contort his body around defenders and slither his way out of trouble, if nothing else, at least tossing the ball away for no gain, but more often breaking loose for big gains.
Westmoore’s pass offense couldn’t connect: Perhaps the best outcome of a Westmoore passing attempt for most of the game was a 15-yard defensive pass interference call on a shot down the sideline that reset the chains and brought the Jaguars down to the Choctaw 33. Graham Jr. and his receivers weren’t “on” as the team completed only seven passes for the night. Sometimes, Graham Jr. missed his receivers in stride, and others, the ball bounced off a receiver’s chest. It seemed Westmoore’s offensive staff dialed up plays that put players in open field, but they just couldn’t connect with each other.
Blunders kept this game close: On several occasions, Choctaw’s offense committed a deadly error — taking a big second-down sack or committing a third-down penalty — that stalled its drive in momentum. When the Yellowjackets had wind in their sails and didn’t do anything to ruin it, Westmoore’s defense couldn’t get a handle on them. Choctaw made it a 12-0 game (it failed 2-point conversions after both touchdowns) within minutes of the opening kickoff, and though its offense continued to make big plays thereafter, untimely mistakes kept Choctaw off the boards again until the third quarter, allowing Westmoore to make a 2-point game in the third quarter.
Play of the game: After its 12-point lead had evaporated in the third quarter, Choctaw’s offense needed to breakaway with a big play. Who else do you call for a big play than gadget receiver Juju Smith? Smith took a routine screen pass 70 yards to put the Yellowjackets ahead 19-10, which all but sealed the game as Choctaw’s defense kept Westmoore out of the end zone the rest of the night.