By JEFF CALI
ADA — The Ada High offense was in high gear and once the Ada defense caught up, it was easy pickins for the fourth-ranked Cougars in a 36-18 win over Tulsa School of Science and Technology Friday night at Norris Field.
Ada improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in District 5A-3 play while the Titans slipped to 2-3 and 0-2.
The Cougars will now travel to Bixby in Week 6 for a showdown with the second-ranked Spartans. Bixby defeated Shawnee 38-17 in Week 5.
After TSST star quarterback Shawn Jackson scored his third touchdown of the game — a 12-yard keeper on fourth-and-goal during which it looked like he had fumbled the ball into the end zone trying to make it to the pylon — the Titans had cut Ada’s lead to 21-18 at the 6:41 mark of the second quarter. Jackson had rushed for over 100 yards at that point.
But the Cougar defense finally began to corral Jackson and shut out TSST the rest of the way. He would finish with 106 yards on 16 carries but had minus-six yards rushing in the second half.
“Our defense appreciates last week’s game a whole lot more now because they had to play a whole lot more tonight, especially in that first half. And when you’re out there running around, you get tired,” Dean said. “I felt like that became a factor in the first half. We became a little fatigued and we didn’t tackle well. We have to be better tacklers. We were much better in the second half. And they were doing the same plays. We just played smarter football.”
Defensive coordinator Greg Dean said Ada’s defenders didn’t do anything different in the second half except for play better.
“We just kind of went out there and got after them a little bit. They just gave better effort, and went out there and tackled better,” Steve’s younger brother said. (Jackson) is a good, good player and when you get your head down and don’t tackle, you’re going to get yourself in trouble.”
Ada closed out the first-half scoring when Roberts found receiver Philip Tweedy in the right side of the end zone for a 13-yard scoring strike just 1:51 before halftime. On fourth-and-11 from the 18, Ada was prepared to attempt a 35-yard field goal. But an offsides penalty on TSST got the Cougars five yards closer and the AHS coaching staff sent the offense back out and called the play to Tweedy.
Ada’s first drive of the third quarter looked like it would end fruitlessly when quarterback Michael Roberts had to retrieve a high snap 18 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
But Roberts connected with receiver Steffan Jones to get the 18 yards back, and that got the Cougars close enough for a John McCann 30-yard field goal that pushed the AHS advantage to 30-18.
After McCann left a 40-yard field goal attempt short, the Cougars scored on their next drive, pounding the ball 47 yards in six plays — with tailback Willy Gould notching five of the carries for 42 yards, including the one-yard TD run that made it 36-18 with 4:13 to play.
Gould, one of Ada’s two-way players, was the workhorse on offense this week with 23 carried for 148 yards and three touchdowns. He also tallied five tackles, including one for a loss, from his linebacker spot.
Roberts started the scoring by running around the left side and streaking 65 yards down the sideline for a touchdown on Ada’s first play from scrimmage. Roberts was freed up by a down field block by receiver Chaz Daniels. McCann’s PAT put Ada on top 7-0.
TSST got to the Ada 29 on its next drive before Tyler Jones turned the Titans away with an interception. But two plays later, Jackson — who also plays linebacker for TSST — scooped up a fumble that took a perfect bounce into his hands and raced 20 yards the other way for a TD. The two-point pass fell incomplete, leaving Ada in front 7-6.
The Cougars responded, going 72 yards in eight plays. That march included a 49-yard pass from Roberts to Daniels. Gould polished off the drive by waltzing three yards untouched into the end zone. His two-point run pushed the Ada lead to 15-6.
Jackson scored again for the Titans, this time knifing through the Ada defense for a 32-yard TD keeper on fourth-and-one that made it 15-12.
Tim Gregory returned the ensuing kickoff to near midfield and that set the stage for another Cougar scoring drive. A Roberts 35 yard keeper got Ada close and Gould punched it in from five yards out to give Ada a 21-12 lead.
Roberts would finish his strong night 6-of-7 for 170 yards through the air and another 108 yards on eight tries on the ground.
“Michael made some really good decisions tonight. And we made a couple of good catches. Chaz picked one up off his shoetops and Ashton (Adams) goes up high and catches one,” Dean said.
Daniels ended with three grabs for 123 yards and was breaking a tackle or two away from even more yards and a pair of scores.
“Michael did a good job,” Daniels said. “We can go to the air. If Michael will throw it up there, we’ll go get it for him. We worked on a lot of plays this week, and coach said we would open it up more. I was happy about that.”
Ada piled up 479 total yards in the contest and the only times the Cougar offense didn’t score were drives that ended in a pair of fumble recoveries and the missed field goal.
“We did a lot of good things offensively. They didn’t stop us. The drives that ended without scores ... those were us stopping ourselves,” Steve Dean said. “It was a good game all the way around.”
Ada’s Josh combo — fullback Stein and tailback Hopstein — combined for 15 more carries for 64 yards.
“We tried to get everybody involved tonight. Gould and Hopstein are playing a lot of defense, so they have to split time at tailback,” Dean said. “We did enough different thing to make people stay honest in all phases. And if we can continue to do that, we’re going to be a pretty good offensive football team.”
Linebacker Keeslar Stover registered a game-high 11 tackles to pace the Cougar defense while Corey Higbee followed with seven. Reserve defensive lineman Chase Norman had his best game to date with a four tackles, a sack and a tackle for a loss.
Linebacker Chad Warren, a move-in from California, got his first taste of Cougar football as he an Norman provided valuable defense relief help.
“It means a lot to have guys like that who can give some other guys a break,” Greg Dean said.
By JEFF CALI