Gavin Johnson Coweta

The McAlester Buffaloes battled against Coweta in a game that came down to the wire at Hook Eales Stadium on Thursday.

This one went down to the wire.

Sixth-ranked McAlester faced off with No. 5 Coweta in a highly-anticipated matchup and it came down to an interception in the final minute to determine the final score as the Tigers escaped with a 20-17 win Thursday.

McAlester coach Forrest Mazey said that while his team came out firing in the first half, they'll need to come out with that same intensity in the second half as well.

"We had a bad second half," Mazey said. "We've got to establish drives, and get off the field...It's a multitude of things."

The game began with the Buffs (5-2, 2-2) being awarded the football first. They started driving downfield, but a penalty backed up the McAlester offense, leading to a punt.

Coweta (6-1, 4-0) began its opening drive my taking chunks of yardage at a time and eating the clock. But deep in the red zone, McAlester held to force a Tiger field goal try.

But as soon as the ball was kicked, the Buffs were there to block the kick and gain the turnover on downs.

This time, it was McAlester’s turn to March downfield. After his teammates opened up the gates through the Tiger defense, Erik McCarty rumbled from his own 24 all the way to the Coweta 13.

Just a few short plays later, McCarty plowed through the Tigers for the first score of the game.

In the second quarter, it didn’t take long for the Buffs to score once again, as Trent Cole trotted in untouched on the right side to give McAlester a 14-0 lead.

On Coweta’s following offensive possession, a quarterback keeper put the Tigers on the board and trimmed the McAlester lead to 14-7.

Dakota Moton got his wheels going on the following offensive possession for McAlester, and put the Buffs all the way down to the Tiger five yard line.

The Coweta defense was able to keep McAlester just out of the endzone, but the Buffs still put up points with a short field goal to lead 17-7.

The Tigers answered by marching toward the end zone and threatening to score. But on fourth down with short yardage, Coweta was stopped just short of the marker to force a turnover on downs.

With just seconds on the clock, quarterback Trent Boatright connected with Lleyton Bass on a long pass down the left sideline to put the Buffs offense at midfield. But the Tigers defense held on, and the two teams headed into the locker room with McAlester leading 17-7 at the half.

In the start of the second half, the Buffs defense rattled Coweta early and forced a quick punt.

But the Tigers answered right back with a defensive stop of their own to force McAlester to punt the ball back to Coweta.

Marching in Buffalo territory, McAlester forced a fourth down try from Coweta. The Tigers used a double revere and quarterback run put the visiting team within ten yards of the score.

A quarterback keeper put the Tigers back in the endzone, and trimmed the McAlester lead down to three after three quarters.

In the fourth quarter, Coweta started to threaten to take the lead in the opening minutes. But a huge sack by Gavin Johnson instead motivated the Tigers to punt, giving McAlester the ball with 8:00 remaining.

This led to a defensive back-and-forth by both teams, as time continued to tick off the clock.

Coweta slowly marched downfield, eventually finding the corner of the endzone for the lead. But McCarty blocked his second extra point of the night to keep the Coweta lead at 20-17.

With just over three minutes remaining, McAlester took over on offense. Boatright found Johnson again, and moved the Buffs downfield.

Boatright started letting it fly, finding Bass deep down the right sideline to the Tiger 17. McAlester moves into scoring position, but a pass from a trick play was intercepted, giving the Tigers the ball against their own goal line with seconds remaining to escape with the 20-17 win.

The Buffs will now switch their focus to next week's game on the road at Tulsa Edison. Mazey said McAlester can't dwell on the loss, and will get right back to work in practice.

"That's the only choice you got," Mazey said. "You lose, you better figure it out and change it."

Boatright finished the game with 9-of-14 passing for 108 yards, with Bass nabbing three passes for 58 yards and Johnson grabbing five catches for 49 yards.

McCarty had 11 carries for 106 yards and a score, while Moton added 89 yards on 13 carries and Cole had seven carries for 20 yards and the score.

Contact Derek Hatridge at dhatridge@mcalesternews.com.

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