MIDWEST CITY — Hayden Franks rumbled in for a touchdown late in the fourth and bellowed for his teammates to keep playing hard.
But the McAlester senior scored what became the final points of the game as the Buffs fell in a 38-7 loss Friday at top-ranked Carl Albert the Class 5A state quarterfinals.
"I'm just super proud of this group, mainly the seniors, because they laid the foundation and they're going to be remembered," McAlester football coach Forrest Mazey said. "I told them they were going to be remembered for good or bad and they're going to etch their memory in stone...and what a great mark they left to rebuild and do something people said they couldn't."
Carl Albert (11-1) advanced to play Piedmont (10-2), which took a 62-21 win Friday against Coweta (6-6).
McAlester (6-5) finished Friday with 95 rushing yards and 72 passing yards for 167 total. Carl Albert had 87 yards on the ground and 282 through the air for 369 total yards.
Titans quarterback Ben Harris finished 18-of-23 passing for 282 yards and three scores in the win, with receiver Rico Windham getting five catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
Both teams started the game going three-and-out before McAlester converted on a fourth down — but the drive stalled and ended with a punt.
Carl Albert capitalized with Kentrell Bizzell pounding in a four-yard touchdown run for the first score of the game with 14 seconds left in the opening period.
The Titans opened up the lead in the second quarter with quarterback Ben Harris finding Javion Traylor for an 18-yard touchdown toss, followed by a 66-yard scoring pass to Rico Windham for a 21-0 lead with 1:34 left in the half.
McAlester tried to piece together a last-minute scoring drive before halftime, but a failed fourth-down conversion gave Carl Albert the ball with just 34 yards to go in the final seconds.
Harris threw a last-second heave to the end zone and McAlester’s Cale Prather tipped the pass, but it fell into Windham’s hands for a 31-yard touchdown pass and a 28-0 Carl Albert lead going into the half.
Carl Albert finished the first half with 48 rushing yards and 192 passing yards for 240 total. McAlester had had 40 yards on the ground and 26 through the air for 66 total first-half yards.
McAlester recovered an onside kick to open the second half — but Carl Albert's Montrell Britt picked off a pass to set up a scoring drive capped by Bizzell with a six-yard run for a 35-0 lead with 5:50 in the third.
Carl Albert's Jacob Eddy added a 20-yard field in the fourth to give the Titans a 38-point lead.
Franks — who led the Buffs with 12 carries for 61 yards — got an 11-yard touchdown to pull McAlester within the final score with 5:01 left to play.
"These seniors have laid a great foundation and they brought football back to what it's supposed to be in McAlester," Mazey said. "Ultimately we want to practice on Thanksgiving and we've just got to get used to that and it's just tough tonight."
Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at email@example.com