EL RENO – For the second week in a row, MacArthur was able to score plenty of points in the first half of a district contest on Friday night.
And for the second week in a row, Mac’s defensive performance was just as impressive – if not more so – than the Highlander’s offense, as Mac’s defense rendered El Reno’s offense ineffective most of the night in a runaway. 49-8 at Memorial Stadium Friday. night.
The defensive harassment began less than a minute and a half into the game, when the Highlanders forced El Reno running back Mikey Devereaux to fumble, giving the offensive the ball just 30 yards from the line. goal. On Mac’s second offensive play, running back Isaiah Gray provided a pass from Gage Graham 22 yards from home.
It was the first of three first-half fumbles that MacArthur would force. And while the Highlander offense couldn’t do much with its next two possessions, the defense / special teams came to the rescue.
After seeing his second offensive training stall quickly, El Reno prepared to come out of his own 23-yard line. But the snap went over the head of punter Cooper Park and into the end zone. The moment Park retrieved the ball, he was greeted by several Highlanders defensemen, and Terrell Roberts’ booming blow threw Park to the ground for safety.
Mac’s next two discs ended with punters. And a pass interference call against the Highlanders extended the Indians’ next run. But the defense continued to put pressure on Park, who was 2 of 14 for 4 yards as a passer. And in 3rd and 9th, it was Roberts again who delivered the crucial blow, releasing the ball for Eperone Taito to retrieve the ball and rush for the score to take it to 15-0.
Just three games into the Indians’ next record, they fumbled again. And even when the defense weren’t forcing turnovers, they weren’t giving up on big plays either. Only three El Reno games scored 10 yards or more and two collided with the 2nd string defense in the 2nd half. On the night, Mac limited El Reno to just 103 total yards.
“I think it all starts with our defense, they set the tone. They’ve been impressive all year, ”said MacArthur head coach Brett Manning. “Our defensive line, in particular, isn’t really that big, but it’s strong. They’re fast, they’ve got experience and they know what’s going on. But you have to give everyone credit on that. defense.”
Often given in an excellent position on the field, MacArthur’s offense was able to launch and score on his last five possessions of the first half. Graham connected twice with senior tight end Vaughn Poppe for touchdowns, the second of which required Poppe’s ballerina-like footwork to get his feet in the bounds. Meanwhile, third-string running back Fontane Mollett scored on a 19-yard run in which he had to cut from one side of the court to the other before hitting the dirt. The junion finished the game with 50 yards.
Graham completed 10 of 15 passes for 100 yards and 3 touchdowns. While the junior has improved in the first half, his coach knows he is capable of playing even better.
“I thought he was solid. I thought he missed some shots he usually does,” Manning said. “Even if his numbers were pretty good he could have been better but he does what we ask him to do, and that is important.”
MacArthur (5-0, 2-0 in District 5A-1) will host the Southeast on Thursday, continuing the program’s first 6-0 start since the 2014 State Championship season.