CHOCTAW — The MacArthur Highlanders could defend against the run or the pass, but not both at the same time.
Once McAlester’s running game finally wore the Highlanders down, MacArthur’s defense couldn’t stop either.
McAlester quarterback Dalton Wood and running back Jarome Smith combined for five rushing touchdowns, leading the Buffaloes past MacArthur, 56-20, in Friday’s 5A state semifinal at Bill Jensen Field at Choctaw High School.
McAlester will face top-ranked Guthrie in the 5A state championship Friday at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.
“They were really banging us off the line and making it hard for us to be able to throw the football,” Buffs coach Bryan Pratt said. “We just kind of settled down, went back to pounding it in there after we had a lead. They started trying to come back, and good things happen when you can run the football.”
Though a two-play MacArthur drive led to a 6-yard rushing touchdown by Will Collins to cut McAlester’s lead to 30-20 early in the third, McAlester’s defense stepped up on the Highlanders’ next possession. With MacArthur at the McAlester 40-yard line, Buffs defensive back Mason Bumphus ran a corner-blitz, sacking Collins for a 21-yard loss.
“They get in this tight ‘Gemini’ split, and if the receiver on the opposite side motions to your side, the corner’s supposed to blitz,” Bumphus said.
“I blitzed the play before, he stepped up and I missed him. So the second time, whenever I ran in there, I knew I wasn’t going to miss him again.”
Unable to make back the 31 yards to a first down, the Highlanders had to punt, but Riley Smith broke through the line and blocked it. The Buffs took over at the Highlander 39, and two plays later Jarome Smith burst 30 yards up the middle for a touchdown that made it 36-20 McAlester.