Nov. 17—On the first play from scrimmage, Stillwater High's Holden Thompson took a handoff into his midsection and saw a crease. Before Putnam City knew it, the senior running back was speeding downfield for a 62-yard touchdown.
That proved the Pioneers didn't have any rust to shake off after earning a first-round bye in the OSSAA Class 6A playoffs. And if that didn't, Stillwater could point to plenty of roaring examples from a 56-7 thrashing of Putnam City in the quarterfinals at Pioneer Stadium.
It marked the Pioneers' ninth win in a row. They haven't lost since dropping back-to-back games to open the season. Stillwater has been dominant since mid-September, and that didn't change on Friday night.
"We're just trying to perfect everything we do," said Thompson, who had 13 carries for 150 yards rushing and two scores. "We're getting ready for the semifinals and state (championship), so we're just trying to perfect everything we can."
Thompson's game-opening touchdown drive set the tone for the beating the Pioneers (9-2) handed to the Pirates (5-7). Less than three minutes later, after Stillwater got the ball back, senior quarterback Chance Acord's big night got going with a 72-yard strike to senior wide receiver Trey Tuck.
The Pioneers scored twice on their first four plays, and they didn't stop there.
Stillwater's lead grew to three scores by the end of the first quarter when Acord found senior wideout Talon Kendrick for a 26-yard touchdown. And things snowballed on the Pirates in the second quarter with another touchdown from Acord to Tuck, a 7-yard score from Thompson and another connection between Acord and Kendrick.
"We talk about the same things whether we are favorited in a game or whether it's a toss-up game," Stillwater coach Chad Cawood said. "It's us focusing on us, one play at a time, doing our job."
Kendrick finished with three catches for 66 yards and two scores. Tuck had 118 yards on two snags, both scores. But Acord, who ended up 11 for 13 with 351 yards passing and five touchdowns, had perhaps his best outing of the season.
"Very efficient. Big night for him," said Cawood, whose offense posted 602 total yards. "They played man coverage, and he took advantage of it. We did a good job stemming out routes and doing the things we needed to do."
Putnam City's lone score didn't come until the final three minutes of the third quarter. The Pirates found the end zone for the first and ONLY time courtesy of a 62-yard touchdown connection between quarterback Judson Keefer and wideout Ethan Scott.
Other than that, though, the Pioneers didn't allow the Pirates to do much.
Putnam City ended the night with 230 yards of offense. The Pirates carried the ball 26 times for 46 yards, an average of 1.77 yards a touch.
The defensive clinic helped Stillwater hold its opponent to single digits for the fourth time this season.
"Ever since Week 3, we've kind of been in lockdown mode," Cawood said. "The guys have been doing a good job."
Four teams — Stillwater, Choctaw, Deer Creek and Muskogee — have been figured to be the favorites in Class 6A-II since the summer. It only seems fitting they're the final four teams standing.
Stillwater will play Choctaw at a neutral site yet to be announced. Regardless of where it's played, the latest meeting between the Pioneers and Yellowjackets will be a rematch of last year's Class 6A championship.
But the Pioneers aren't scared of coming across a formidable foe with the stakes as high as they've been all season. Stillwater has had a target on its back since the beginning of 2022's eventual undefeated campaign. Cawood and Co. have embraced everyone's best shot.
"Those games are fun. This time of year, there are four of us playing. That's it," Cawood said. "You're only guaranteed one more Monday practice, one more Tuesday practice and one more Wednesday practice. Go to work, get better and get ready to play."
Follow News Press sports reporter Jon Walker on Twitter @ByJonWalker for updates on Oklahoma State athletics, Stillwater High and more.