By Matt Goisman
TULSA — As the Bishop Kelley Comets warmed up before Friday’s game, a player shouted, “Bad day to be a Buffalo!”
Maybe “bad” is Tulsa slang for “really, really good.”
The McAlester Buffaloes outplayed the Comets on offense, defense and special teams, cruising to a 38-10 Buffs victory Friday at Angelo Prassa Field in Tulsa.
With the win, the Buffs improved to 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the district. McAlester can wrap up the district Friday with a win against Skiatook and a loss by Tulsa Memorial.
“We had a really good week of practice, so we expected to come out and play well, and they came out and did just that,” Buffs coach Bryan Pratt said.
“You had to be very disciplined in everything you did, and our kids adjusted to the formations and did all the things that we’d asked them to do throughout the week of practice. So overall, a great game.”
Though McAlester squandered two of its first three offensive drives, the Buffs began to pull away late in the first quarter with a 60-yard, four-play drive. Caden Pratt rushed 3 yards on the first play before temporarily leaving the game with an ankle injury, then Jarome Smith finished the drive, grabbing 20 yards on a third-and-1 at the McAlester 49-yard line and then rushing 31 yards for a touchdown that made it 14-3 Buffs as the first quarter expired.
Smith also rushed 4 yards for a touchdown to end the first drive of the game, putting the Buffs up 7-0 with 9:05 left in the first. Smith finished with 175 rushing yards on 17 carries.
“When people are loading the box the way they were, if you don’t get any movement, you aren’t going to be able to run the ball, period,” Smith said. “So I give all my credit to my linemen.
“We have a pretty bitter rivalry with these guys that most people overlook. But in our locker room, it’s pretty serious.”
Bishop Kelley and McAlester traded punts early in the second quarter, then the Buffs stopped the Comets on fourth down to take over at the McAlester 46. Three plays later, Caden Pratt connected with Cade Harkins on a short-yardage pass, then watched Harkins burst through the secondary and sprint his way to a 59-yard touchdown that made it 21-3 with 5:45 left in the second.
Caden also lofted a pass to Harkins towards the back of the end zone early in the fourth, with Harkins just keeping a foot inbounds to make it 38-3 Buffs. The two touchdown passes served as payback for Harkins, whom Caden threw to on the final play of last season’s home loss to Bishop Kelley.
“That’s just a regular screen,” Harkins said of his first touchdown. “We’ve been running that all year, and it’s a good play for us. It’s just all coming together and blocking as one unit.”
Despite playing in pain throughout the second half, Pratt scrambled his way to 7-yard touchdown run that made it 31-3 Buffs with 3:11 left in the third. He rushed for 101 yards and threw for 175, twice finding Mason Bumphus for 94 combined yards.
“We knew coming into this week that we had nothing to prove running the ball, so all week in practice, we worked on constantly throwing,” Caden Pratt said. “Throwing the fade, throwing the post, doing that kind of stuff and doing better in the phase that we were lacking in a little bit in with me at quarterback. I feel like practice really paid off, and it showed tonight.”
As McAlester’s focused offense consistently put up points, its defense prevented Bishop Kelley from achieving any consistency whatsoever. Of the Comets’ 14 offensive drives — included a one-play kneel that ended the first half — nine ended after four or fewer plays.
The Buffs sacked Comets quarterbacks Spenser Lewis and Ryan Martin four times, Riley Smith and Drew Amos each recovered a fumble and Bumphus intercepted a pass. The Buffs’ defense played especially well on the first down of Kelley’s drives, allowing on average just 1.5 yards in that situation.
“It’s always a challenge to go win in the trenches,” said Buffs defensive lineman Josh Peckio, who had one of the team’s sacks.
“We were well-coached this week. Watching film, where the running back was, they normally ran just one or two plays out of it. ... Just knowing the play that they normally run on first down is crucial.”
Of the Comets’ 156 total yards, 42 came on one drive against the Buffs’ JV players. The Comets, who didn’t look ready to play at the start of the game and looked more and more unfocused as the game went on, managed just a 32-yard field goal by Josiah Siddiki against McAlester’s varsity, then Martin rushed 5 yards to give the Comets their only touchdown with 1:46 left in the game.
“We have a lot of parts, (but) we’re just not hitting on any cylinders,” Comets coach JJ Tappana said.
“This has a lot less to do with us and a lot more to do with McAlester being really good. ... You have to score a lot of points to beat these guys.”
With the loss, Bishop Kelley fell to 5-3 overall, 3-2 in the district. Kelley plays Memorial on Friday.
Contact Matt Goisman at firstname.lastname@example.org.