Cash McAlvain flashed in his first career start as a quarterback, but it wasn’t enough to lift Tahlequah in its season opener Friday on the road against Sapulpa.
McAlvain threw for 327 yards and five touchdowns, but the Chieftains came out on top on a late touchdown run by Marco Smith as Sapulpa claimed a 41-38 victory.
Three of McAlvain’s TD passes went to junior receiver Beckett Robinson, including a 75-yard scoring strike during the second quarter. The junior, who also had a 61-yard TD pass to tight end Brayden Northington and a 31-yard pitch and catch to receiver Jacob Morrison, finished by completing 18 of his 24 attempts.
Tahlequah, which has dropped its last two season openers, both to the Chieftains, scored the game’s first 21 points and led 28-12 at halftime. Robinson closed with seven receptions for a game-high 156 yards.
“Proud of the players. Had a lot of players step up and make some plays. Sapulpa just made a few more down the stretch than we did,” Tahlequah head coach Brad Gilbert said. “Cash McAlvain showed up, along with Beckett Robinson. Offensive line play was really good throughout the night.”
McAlvain gave the Tigers a 38-35 lead on a 20-yard TD pass to Robinson in the back of the end zone with 2:07 left in the game that came on a 3rd and 16, but Sapulpa answered on a Marco Smith three-yard scoring run in the final seconds.
Tahlequah was led on the ground by Jake Girty, who rushed for 50 yards on nine carries. Receiver Race Stopp finished with six receptions for 62 yards.
Defensively, the Tigers allowed 492 total yards of offense. Smith had his way on the ground with 247 yards on 33 carries and found the end zone four times, quarterback Colton Howard threw for 205 yards, and receiver Kylen Edwards had a game-high 10 catches for 121 yards.
Tigers’ defensive back JJ Antwine had an interception in the end zone, and Gilbert was also pleased with the play of defensive end Kingston Hall.
Tahlequah will try to regroup when it hosts Wagoner in its home opener at Doc Wadley Stadium on Friday, Sept. 8. Wagoner opened its season with a 24-7 road win over Coweta.
SALINA 22, LOCUST GROVE 6
Salina quarterback Eli Swarer threw for 174 yards with a pair of touchdowns and helped lift the Wildcats’ to a 22-6 win over Mayes County rival Locust Grove on Thursday, Aug. 31 in Locust Grove.
Both of Swarer’s touchdown passes went to receiver Cooper Hooker, who totaled 65 receiving yards on five receptions. Salina also had a defensive touchdown on a fumble recovery by Jescee Sanders, who finished with 12 tackles.
The win is a bounce back for Salina after it suffered a 12-10 setback to Quapaw to open the season.
“I thought we cleaned up a lot of things from game one to game two,” Salina head coach Clayton Saiz said. “Our kids played really hard and executed the game plan well.”
It’s the fourth consecutive win for the Wildcats over their big rival.
“It’s always good to beat those guys,” Saiz said. “Our ’24 Seniors are 4-0 against LG in their careers. It was a great team win to get back on track.”
Salina will remain on the road Friday, Sept. 8 when it visits Chouteau. The Pirates, who slip to 0-2 under first-year head coach Paul Hix, will be at Adair on Thursday, Sept. 7.
STILWELL 34, ROLAND 19
Stilwell quarterback Juan Martinez passed for 197 yards and four touchdowns, including two TD tosses to Tray Chuculate, and the Indians opened their season with a 34-19 win over Roland on Friday.
Martinez completed passes to five different receivers and added 36 rushing yards. Chuculate, who also had a 40-yard TD run, finished with three catches for 41 yards. Martinez’s other scoring tosses went to Cole Grimmett and Orren Shelley, who combined for 98 receiving yards on three receptions.
Indians’ head coach Bryan Ross was pleased with the fast start but not so much with the finish.
“Happy we started fast and played well early. Lost focus in the second half and had too many penalties. Must play cleaner next week,” Stilwell first-year head coach Bryan Ross said.
Stilwell will next host Keys (0-1) Friday, Sept. 8.
KIEFER 64, ADAIR 26
Adair’s Brady Bradbury will have to continue his wait for his first win as a head coach.
The Warriors, who committed four turnovers, dropped to 0-2 with a 64-26 road loss to Kiefer on Friday.
“Kiefer is a really good football team and our guys fought for three quarters. We are on the cusp of putting it all together and becoming a good football team,” Bradbury said. “We have to take care of the football on offense and get our eyes in the right place on defense.
“I thought the defense played well. Our offense put our defense in some bad situations because we turned the ball over four times. Going forward, we need to have more emphasis on taking care of the football.”
Adair was led offensively by quarterback Cale Winfrey, who threw for 167 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and receiver Ryan Hedges, who closed with 101 yards and a score.
The Warriors will face Locust Grove (0-2) in their home opener on Thursday, Sept. 7.
LIBERTY 21, CHOUTEAU 16
Chouteau opened its season with a 21-16 setback to Liberty on Thursday, Aug. 31.
“Didn’t start out the game like we wanted,” Chouteau head coach Jeff Brown said. “Allowed two scores in the first half because of penalties and a blown coverage. Tried to rally back in half but couldn’t sustain. Three turnovers and penalties in critical times on drives stalled comeback.”
The Wildcats had their way from a numbers standpoint. They finished with 336 total yards, compared to Liberty’s 183. Chouteau had nine penalties for 64 yards.
Chouteau will host Salina (1-1) Friday, Sept. 8.