McALESTER — The McAlester Buffaloes started sloppy, turning over the ball two plays into the game. The sloppiness continued, leading to six penalties, but the Buffs showed that even a sloppy McAlester team can still score points, get stops and win games.
It can also still clinch district titles.
McAlester quarterback Caden Pratt rushed for three touchdowns and threw for two more, leading the Buffs to a 52-24 win against the Skiatook Bulldogs on Friday at Hook Eales Stadium in McAlester.
Coupled with Bishop Kelley beating Tulsa Memorial, 27-20, the Buffs clinched District 5A-3. The Buffs last won a district title in 2011.
“It’s a win and a district championship, and so you’re obviously happy about that,” Buffs coach Bryan Pratt said. “But you still have another week that you have to go in the regular season, and no one wants to start off the playoffs after a loss.
“If we’re planning on beating the big boys that it’s going to take to win a state championship, we can’t play that kind of football.”
Though Skiatook scored first on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Stephen Upton to Gavin Pilgrim, McAlester responded with five unanswered touchdowns, scoring in five of its eight first-half drives. Jarome Smith began the scoring with a 26-yard touchdown run with 7:07 left in the first quarter, running around the right side of the defensive line before cutting back to the middle and past a Skiatook safety for the game-tying score.
Smith finished with 188 rushing yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. He would’ve had at least two more touchdowns, but a Buffs penalty canceled one and conservative placement by the referees after a goal-line run denied him another.
“That’s just football,” Smith said.
“I’m happy, but I’m not satisfied. We still have a lot of things to improve on.”