TULSA — When a score becomes so lopsided that the game becomes basically unwinnable, football coaches will sometimes choose to let the game clock run in situations when it would normally be stopped. That ends the game sooner, decreasing the chances of an injury and protecting some measure of the losing team’s pride.
Thanks to the McAlester Buffaloes, the game clock in Friday’s game started running nonstop just two minutes into the second quarter.
The Buffs scored eight touchdowns while allowing the Nathan Hale Rangers no points and just 52 total offensive yards in the first half, cruising to a 54-12 win Friday at the East Side Sports Complex in Tulsa.
Counting Hale’s two fumbles on kickoffs and three turnovers on downs, McAlester's defense forced nine turnovers Friday. The turnovers almost started on the first play from scrimmage, with Cade Harkins undercutting a pass from Jonathan Beasley and catching it in the air, only to have a Hale receiver rip the ball out of Harkins' hands on the way down for an incomplete pass.
Instead of Harkins, Jarome Smith got the first turnover, hauling in a pass from Sam Palmer that either Harkins or his receiver deflected into the air. Getting great blocking from the defensive line, Smith returned the interception 48 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead a minute into the game.
“They threw a hitch, and I don’t know if Cade deflected it or if it bounced off his helmet,” Smith said. “It just went straight up in there, and I was around it, so I knew I was going to get it. That was my first pick. I was excited.”
Hale fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving possession back to McAlester at the Hale 32-yard line. Smith and Caden Pratt took the ball 29 yards on six plays, then Pratt finished the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.