McALESTER — To beat the second-ranked Carl Albert Titans, the McAlester Buffaloes figured they’d need to win a close game that required four full quarters from their starters.
McAlester's offense scored more points than any Carl Albert opponent all season, and its defense stopped the Titans on fourth down six times to win Friday’s Class 5A quarter-final, 52-13, at Hook Eales Stadium in McAlester.
McAlester will play either Pryor or Lawton MacArthur, which played Saturday, in the semifinals Friday at a neutral location. It will be McAlester’s third consecutive trip to the semifinals.
“Very proud right now, but we’re in the same position that we’ve been the last two years,” Buffs coach Bryan Pratt said.
“For us to play like we did with this week in the adverse situations that we played in, and then turn around and come away with a big win, is a big deal for us. Now we have to regroup, get ready and get ready for another week of practice.”
The Buffs began to pull away from the Titans early in the second quarter. Dalton Wood converted a third-and-10 with a 20-yard pass to Cade Harkins at the Carl Albert 43-yard line, and after Jarome Smith ran the Buffs to the 27, Wood connected with Mason Bumphus for a 27-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-6 Buffs with 10:58 left in the second.
“They were trying to jump the flats a lot, get in the backfield, so the more pressure they brought, the less people they had to cover us,” Bumphus said.
“Me and Dalton had just been talking, and he said, ‘If the safety steps down and you beat him, just turn it upfield.’”
Wood also found a wide-open Bumphus for a 37-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth. Dealing with a freezing rain all night, Wood seemed more at ease throwing, with five of his nine completions going for 20 or more yards.