Cougars dismantle Class 5A No. 3 McAlester

Sep. 12—The Ada High football team took it to another gear against old rival McAlester in a huge Week 2 matchup Friday night at Norris Field.

After the Buffaloes grabbed an early 20-12 lead and seemingly all the momentum, the Cougars stormed back with 31 unanswered points and manhandled McAlester 44-20, much to the delight of the home crowd inside Koi Ishto Stadium.

Coach Brad O'Steen's club, ranked No. 10 in Class 4A, improved to 3-0 on the year while a shocked McAlester team — No. 3 in Class 5A — left town at 2-1. The Cougars are riding high into their bye week. Ada returns to action and opens Class 4A-4 District play when Sallisaw comes to town on Sept. 22.

"This is three years of work to get to this point right here. It's our kids buying into the system, working their butts off, believing in us as coaches and going out and applying it against a high-quality ball club. I'm just really proud of our program right now — and that's kids, coaches, the community and everybody. That's Ada Cougar football," O'Steen told The Ada News amidst the postgame celebration.

The Cougars stole all the momentum in the closing seconds of the first half.

After a nice McAlester punt left Ada in the shadow of its own goalposts, the Cougars jumped into their two-minute offense and promptly drove down the field. Ada drove 91 yards in 10 plays, capped by a 20-yard touchdown run by Xander Rhynes, who raced around the left and sped down the sideline for a score. A two-point pass was no good, but the Cougars grabbed the lead at 24-20. Some of the big plays on the drive included a 36-yard keeper by Kolten Carlock and a couple of key completions by Brock Boyles — a 14-yarder to Case Stafford and a 13-yarder to Deante Lindsay.

"We work on it every week — it's one of the things we do throughout our practice. We're used to that transition," O'Steen said of his team's hurry-up offense.

What happened next was crazy.

After the ensuing kickoff, McAlester started on its own 20-yard line with just 5 seconds showing on the clock. Instead of just heading into the locker room down by four, MHS head coach Forrest Mazey decided to roll the dice. It came up snake eyes.

Just as talented McAlester quarterback Caden Lesnau was about to heave the ball down the field, he was hit by Ada defender Will Johnson. The lame duck pass fell right into the arms of Carlock — who was basically playing center field on the play. The Ada junior followed several teammates down the right sideline and returned the interception 48 yards for a touchdown as time expired.

That big defensive play led to Ada building a 30-20 halftime advantage.

"It was huge. To come out and get a big pick and take it to the end zone. I just can't speak highly enough about what we're doing defensively with our coaching staff and our kids," O'Steen said.

O'Steen was asked if he was surprised that the Buffaloes took such a risk with so little time left on the clock

"A little. You just never know what people are thinking. It's a chess match," he said.

The Cougars unveiled some big-play abilities against the rival Buffaloes. Ada had four scoring plays of at least 48 yards — the interception by Carlock, a 51-yard keeper by Carlock that opened the AHS scoring, a giant 65-yard pass and catch from Boyles to Lakievin Richardson (he was wide open on the play and easily trotted into the end zone for the score) and a 58-yard TD reception by Lindsay.

"We threw some new things at them and were able to step up and make some big plays. We have some unproven kids but they're starting to prove themselves and show they can play at a high level," O'Steen said. "We knew we were going to be pretty good on defense. We just needed a little time on offense to get the kids used to Friday nights. We have some skill guys that can play."

During the second-half shutout, the Ada defense limited the McAlester offense to 77 total yards.

"I'm really proud of our coaches. Coach (Colby) Shamley has done a heckuva job with the defense — do your job and trust what you've been coached to do," O'Steen said.

Carlock's monster game included eight tackles and the interception on defense, 133 rushing yards on just eight carries and he completed an 8-yard pass to Lakievin Richardson for good measure.

Caron Richardson finished with 64 yards on 11 carries and scored Ada's final touchdown on a 24-yard run with 2:33 to play. Rhynes finished with 24 yards on eight carries and Lakievin Richardson ended up with 12 yards rushing and three catches for 80 yards.

Boyles, Ada's sophomore QB, finished 7-of-16 for 184 yards and three touchdowns.

Fisher Marr turned in his third straight game with double-digit tackles, finishing with a team-best 14 stops. Cord Coffee harassed Lesnau all night. He was in on three sacks and had seven tackles. George Maddox also had seven tackles for Ada. Camariee Richardson had an interception for the Cougar D.

Lesnau completed 11-of-25 passes for 123 yards and two scores for the Buffaloes. Ethan Watkins led the MSH ground game with 73 yards on 17 carries.

There were plenty of penalties to go around. McAlester had 12 infractions for 94 yards and the Cougars were a little worse with 14 penalties for 130 yards.