Several turnovers led to a season-opening loss for McAlester.
Muskogee picked up three McAlester (0-1) fumbles and returned them for touchdowns in the first quarter Friday to set the tone on the way to handing the Buffs a 43-7 loss at Hook Eales Stadium.
“That’s a detail thing,” McAlester coach Forrest Mazey said of the turnovers. “I told them details can win or lose them the game, and unfortunately, the details were not on our side tonight.”
The Buffs finished the game with eight turnovers after five lost fumbles, one interception and two turnovers on downs.
McAlester’s first three possessions led to fumbles, which turned into 17 points for the Roughers.
The first fumble came on the first offensive play before Muskogee’s Joseperry Yahuilt ended up making a field goal.
Muskogee got the ball right back after McAlester’s Grant Owens fumbled on the kickoff return. Roughers quarterback Ty Williams connected with Kentrell Mitchum two plays later for a touchdown.
McAlester drove the ball with multiple first downs after that thanks to a combination of its running game and Muskogee penalties. But McAlester quarterback Chris Hilton fumbled the ball on a keeper while driving toward the red zone.
Muskogee made McAlester pay with a break down in the secondary leading to a Jordan Bradley receiving touchdown with 11:39 left to go in the first half. Williams threw a home run ball as Bradley stretched the field vertically for a 59-yard score.
The Roughers jumped on McAlester turning the ball over again with just more than three minutes to play in the first half. Hilton scrambled and threw off his foot, but Muskogee’s Caleb Webb met him with an interception, which he returned for a touchdown at the 3:07 mark. The Roughers’ two-point conversion attempt was no good, which made it a 23-7 game.
McAlester’s lone score in the game came after Muskogee took a 17-0 lead. The Buffs racked up some yardage, just as it did prior to the Hilton fumble. They opted to go for it on fourth-and-goal with four yards to go. McAlester ran the Statue of Liberty play with a couple of fakes, and Hilton found a wide-open Gavin Johnson.
The receiver’s touchdown with 7:56 left in the first half gave McAlester its first points of the year.
Hilton injured himself on a run at the 10:57 mark of the third quarter. Trent Boatright filled in for Hilton with Hilton on the bench, and he did not return in the game.
A high snap got away, and Boatright could not recover. Devion Williams of Muskogee recovered it, and the extra point for the Roughers brought the game to its final score.
“I appreciate the crowds coming out tonight, and I want them to continue to come out because we’re getting to get better, and we’re going to compete and we’re going to find a way to get these kids right,” Mazey said.
McAlester is scheduled to play at 7:30 on Sept. 13 at Poteau.