Jeff Cali Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
During the moments following Ada’s 36-21 loss to rival Ardmore Friday night at Norris Field, head coach Matt Weber couldn’t help but have flashbacks.
His mind raced back to last year’s Class 4A semifinal showdown with Clinton, which turned into a 40-22 loss thanks mostly to five turnovers.
The Cougars committed four turnovers against Ardmore in their Week 1 loss.
“We just turned the ball over too much. It was kind of déja vu of our last game we played,” Weber said. “When you play a good football team and you turn it over, you’re not going to win.”
Ada (No. 4 in Class 4A) also struggled in the kicking game, averaging just 27.8 yards on five punts — included two that traveled less than 20 yards — while also allowing an 80-yard, game-sealing kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“They did what you have to do to win the first game. They won the kicking game, and they won the turnover battle,” Weber said. “I know they turned at least three of our turnovers into scores. Hats off to them. They did what we talked about we needed to do to win the first game.”
Just like during the loss to Clinton, Ada committed three first-half turnovers against Ardmore. Still they were very much in the ballgame, trailing just 22-14 at the break.
The Cougars got the ball to start the third quarter and — behind the strong running of sophomore running back Shiloh Windsor — moved the ball to the Ardmore 26. But Windsor fumbled after a six-yard gain. Ardmore sophomore Tevin Bowman — listed as an offensive and defensive lineman (wearing No. 56) — scooped up the ball in stride and showed good speed as he weaved his way past Ada tacklers and raced down the far sideline for an 80-yard touchdown that put the Tigers (No. 9 in Class 5A) on top 29-14.
Ada avoided a bigger hole when Micah Simmer blocked a short field goal attempt by Ben Gonzalez early in the fourth quarter.
The Cougars cashed in on a fumble recovery by Josh Horne during a punt return, when Simmer slipped behind the Ardmore defense from his tight end position and quarterback Tryce Prince connected with him for a 13-yard touchdown strike on a clutch fourth-down play. Junior Todd Penick nailed his third PAT of the night to close the gap to 29-21 with 4:15 to play.
But Ardmore’s O.J. Walker sealed the outcome by returning the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a score.
The Ada defense limited Ardmore to just 34 yards on 13 plays during the second half, with the only Tiger scoring coming via the long fumble return and Walker’s kickoff return.
Weber was pleased at how his team battled until the end.
“I didn’t ever see any give-up in us. There late, we were still chasing the football,” he said.
Ada struck first after forcing the Tigers to turn the ball over on downs to start the game. The Cougar started from their own 36 and completed the scoring drive with another fourth-down touchdown pass — this time a 16-yarder from Prince to 6-7 receiver Cory Kilby, who outraced his defender to the back corner of the end zone to give the home team a 7-0 lead at the 4:47 mark of the opening quarter.
After a 36-yard kickoff return by Kevion McGee, Ardmore answered with a drive that ended with a 5-yard quarterback keeper by Clay Atwood that tied the game at 7-all.
Weber tried to reach in his bag of tricks, as receiver Scott Johnson took a handoff and attempted to complete a pass down the near sideline. But McGee intercepted the pass, and the Tigers eventually turned that miscue into a 1-yard TD run by Jamarcus Mills. The PAT was no good, putting Ardmore on top 13-7.
Ada junior Riley Alexander recovered an Ardmore fumble forced by Prince with just under six minutes to play in the first half. But Mills recovered an Ada mishandle of the pigskin on the very next play. The Tiger then got another short touchdown keeper from Atwood. The Tigers failed to convert on a two-point run, leaving the visitors on top 19-7.
On Ada’s next offensive play, Windsor took a handoff, got some running room and outraced the only Ardmore defender that had a chance to stop him for a scintillating 79-yard touchdown run that cut the Cougar deficit to 19-14. Windsor finished the game with 142 yards on 21 carries.
The Tigers got the ball back with just 41 seconds left in the first half, but a 19-yard catch by Lacarrio Lopez and a 21-yard grab by Walker got Ardmore close enough for Gonzalez to nail a 22-yard field goal with eight seconds left to put the visitors ahead 22-14 at the break.
Ada will try to get in the win column after traveling to Idabel for a Week 2 matchup. The Warriors dropped a 41-7 decision to Broken Bow Friday night.
“I know one thing. We’re going to be a good football team. We’re going to get those things fixed. Our kids understand it, and they will come back Monday ready to work,” Weber said. “We’ll try to get it fixed and get ready for Idabel.”