It’s a two hour drive to Allan Trimble stadium in Jenks, Oklahoma. This past Friday that’s where you could find the faithful Tuttle fans. They did a great job of filling up the stands and cheering fiercely for the Tuttle Tigers, the perfect 12th man. It’s moments like this that one understands the saying, “We Are Tuttle.”
“I thought the game was awesome,” said Head Coach Brad Ballard. “It was a great atmosphere for a football game, I was so happy for our kids that our community turned out. It was something really special. I’m very thankful that our kids get to experience things like that.”
The Tigers won the coin toss and deferred to the second half putting the stout Tuttle defense on the field first. They did a great job with just about every defensive player getting in on at least one tackle. Poteau was able to get a first down on their first drive but that is all they could pick up. On second down Senior, Ethan Paxton tackled Poteau’s running back, Easton Francis short of the first down for one of Paxton’s 7 tackles on the night. They tried to throw the ball on third down but pressure by several Tigers forced the Pirates to have to punt the ball.
On second down with 11 yards to go Senior Quarterback, Carson Berryhill connected with Junior Wide Reciever, Parker Ross for a 30 yd pass on an out route on Tuttle’s sideline but a penalty took it away. A run by Triston Truelove, then a dropped snap and tackle for a loss set up a 3rd down and 23 yards with Tuttle just barely in Pirate territory. The offensive line did a great job of protecting Berryhill all night and on this play and he threw a beautiful 44 yard pass through double coverage right into the chest of Senior Wide Receiver, Coby Trevino. No defender even had a chance to get their hands on the ball. A few strides later and Coby was in the end zone. The Pirate fans were stunned. This put the Tigers up 7-0 with 7:43 left in the 1st quarter.
On the next drive for Poteau, the Tuttle Defense again showed their teeth. Many Tigers were in on the action and on second down Senior Linebacker, Braden Truelove came out of the pile with the football and pleaded with referee’s to no avail. Poteau had the ball on their own 19 yard line on 3rd and 17 when B. Truelove blew right past his man and pressured Poteau’s quarterback, Jett Pitchford, to throw downfield where Junior, Paxton would lay back with arms stretched out and somehow hold onto the ball as he landed hard on his back for a huge interception around the 50 yard line. The Tuttle crowd erupted with joy at the athletic display!
The Tiger Defense went to work again and again. A big hit by Senior Linebacker, Dylan Coffman, Colin Naney, and Ethan Paxton popped the ball out and sent it flying nearly 10 yards into the backfield. The race to ball was on and Poteau’s Gunner Thompson would narrowly beat Senior, Camden Periman to the ball. After one more play for Poteau, the first quarter ended. Score still 7-0.
A few plays into the second quarter, Poteau took a shot downfield hoping to get a first down, but Junior, Joseph Yarbrough batted it right out of the receivers hands putting the offense back out on the field for Tuttle.
Tiger offense would go to work again with Berryhill both running the ball and then connecting yet again with Trevino for another 44 yard pass setting the Tigers up in the red zone. Trevino had 6 catches for 128 yards. Ross took a handoff in the backfield and set the Tigers up at the one yard line where Tuttle’s resilient Offensive Line and T. Truelove would punch it in. Truelove had 22 carries for 55 yards on the night with one touchdown. Sophomore Kicker, Bryce Legg was perfect. Legg got all his PAT’s going 3 for 3. With 8:52 left in the 2nd quarter the Tigers were in the lead 14-0.
On the ensuing drive Poteau finally got on the board held by the stingy, Tuttle Defense to only a field goal. Tuttle did get the ball back, but the Poteau defense stepped up and forced Tuttle to punt. On Poteau’s next drive from their own 34 yard line while trying to connect with one of their receivers, the Pirate QB aired it out only to find Tuttle’s Joseph Yarbrough instead at Tuttle’s 30 yard line. Yarbrough ran it all the way across the field and into Poteau territory to the 42 yard line. The Tigers mounted a drive down the field but Poteau’s, Christian Duncan intercepted a pass meant for Trevino. The half ended Tuttle 14 – Poteau 3.
The third quarter was the tale of two very tight defenses who didn’t allow either side to see the end zone. The big bruiser Linebacker, Dylan Coffman put up some great numbers with five tackles, two assists, one tackle for loss and one sack. Junior Safety, Ethan Paxton had 7 tackles and 1 interception. Junior Linebacker, Zane Vasquez had an impressive seven tackles with one tackle for a loss. By the end of the night the Tuttle Defense forced 4 turnovers and held the Pirates to 157 total yards with 25 passing and 132 yards rushing.
“I thought the defense played well, played aggressive,” stated Ballard. “We were on the positive side of the turnover margin again. Special teams were really, really good. We punted the ball well, flipped the field and forced them to go the length of field to score. Our defense does a really good job so I think thats a tough chore for any offense.”
The 4th quarter started off with confidence as players, coaches and fans alike all with hands raised in the air proudly displaying four fingers. However, Tuttle’s first drive in the fourth quarter ended with a big tackle for a loss on Berryhill forcing the Tigers to punt. Parker Ross would quickly take down Poteau’s kick returner. On the very next play Coffman would fly across the line headed straight for the Pirates quarterback, Pitchford and he would go down trying to avoid the hit. Score remained 14-3.
On the following drive Tuttle was unable to convert and had to punt the ball back to the Pirates who didn’t waste their possession. They were able to get their running back, Francis into the end zone for the touchdown and then again across the goal line for the two point conversion making the score now14-11 closing the gap and giving the Pirate faithful a little hope.
Then ever speedy, Ethan Paxton returned the kick 37 yards. A late hit penalty added 15 more and the Tigers Offense went back to work. Berryhill again connected with Trevino who narrowly got both tips of his toes down in bounds before being knocked out by a defender. Zane Vasquez then picked up a hard fought 19 yard run setting the Tigers up inside the 20 yard line where T. Truelove would run the ball down to what looked like the 1 yard line, but a flag nullified the gain. The Tigers had 9 penalties on the night compared to Poteau’s four penalties.
Berryhill then connected with Senior, Camden Periman in the end zone. The 6’4” receiver had to jump and still caught it in the face mask one handed and managed reel it in and hold on to it even with the Pirate defender trying his best to bat it down. Tigers tacked on to the lead making the final score 21-11.
Tiger defense wasn’t quite done yet. On the following drive Luke Surber picked off the ball on Poteau’s 34 yard line and ran it back to the 8 yard line. The Tigers went into victory formation and managed to run most of the remaining time off the clock before being forced to turn over the ball on downs. With only seconds left, the Pirates conceded and ran one final play to end the game.
Tuttle faces Bethany in the State Championship game at Miller Stadium in Yukon, Oklahoma this Friday night November 30, 2018 at 7pm. Bethany is looking for retribution against the Tigers for being the only team to beat them all season.
“Bethany has some really good athletes and are really well coached,” says Ballard. “We are two teams that are playing really well right now, there will be some really good athletes out on the field. I’m excited to get it going and turn these guys loose. They are excited to play one more game and for a lot of them it will be the last time they put those stacked T’s on. We are ready to get out there and get rolling!”