The Pryor Times


October 18, 2013

Tigers stripe rival Zebras, earn playoff bid

PRYOR, OK — Brennon Barth did the bulk of the work with his legs, but when the time came to shine, it was the junior quarterback's arm that won the game for the Pryor Tigers.

Barth rushed for 219 yards and four touchdowns and threw the game-winning touchdown to Anthony Martinez in the fourth quarter to seal the Tigers' 35-26 win over Highway 20 rival Claremore Thursday night in the teams' 89th meeting.

"I was just looking for an option," Barth said. "Anthony was my first option, so I went for it. I knew it was over then."

Two crucial fumbles set Pryor up to win the game. The first came with six minutes left on a bad snap in a punting situation with the Tigers up 28-26. A Pryor defender jarred the ball loose and Alex McCammon recovered the ball at the Zebra 9-yard line.

"Right then is when I figured that we were going to win," McCammon said. "That's when I knew the game was over."

A pair of penalties backed Pryor up to the 24-yard line, but a 13-yard run by Matt McGouldrick and a six-yard carry by Barth set the Tigers up on third-and-goal from the five. Barth got good protection and scrambled left before finding Martinez alone in the back corner of the end zone. Martinez' extra point made it a two-score game with 4:56 on the clock.

Pryor terminated the ensuing Claremore drive on fourth-and-two at the Tigers' 33 and ended the game by sacking Zebra QB Brinley Brown with 1:27 to play, forcing a fumble that Tiger defensive end Ryan Ogg collected to seal the win.

"Beating Claremore isn't as big as knowing we're No. 1 in districts," Barth said. "I don't care who it was, now we're going to the playoffs."

The victory pushes Pryor to 5-2 overall and 4-0 in district. The Tigers wrapped up a playoff berth after missing the postseason in 2011.

"From getting beat by Miami [in Week 3] to be where we're at now, it's a credit to our kids," PHS head coach Jason Freeman said. "All we've talked about is getting into the playoffs. Now we can start talking about other things, bigger things. It's amazing."

Barth led the charge for yet another week for the Wildcats, completing 7-of-12 passes for 83 yards and a score.

"Can't say enough about him. He's such a tough kid," Freeman said. "They were doing some things where he was pulling the ball a lot [on the read option]. He's just picked up this offense so well ... He's a competitor. It's hard for us to get too far behind in a ball game just because of how competitive he is."

Barth's 26 carries, most out of the read option package, were a game-high.

"Some of them [my carries] were gives, and I probably should have given them, but I felt like keeping a few," Barth said. "In the heat of the game you're not really thinking straight."

The game went back-and-forth in the second period after the scoreless first. Pryor drew first blood on the opening play of the second quarter on a 46-yard Barth scamper. Claremore (5-2, 3-1 5A-4) countered with a 34-yard strike from Brown to Dustin Basks to knot the game at 7.

Martinez returned the ensuing kickoff 62 yards to set up a six-play, 34-yard drive capped off by Barth's nine-yard run. Again, the Zebras had an answer, as Brown sneaked in from a yard out to tie the game at 14.

Barth's seven-yard scoring run with 3:33 remaining gave the Tigers a 21-14 advantage heading into the locker room.

Brown and Basks hooked up again in the third quarter on a 32-yard score to end a three-play, 76-yard drive, but Basks couldn't handle the extra point snap and Pryor retained a one-point lead. Barth scored his fourth touchdown of the night, a three-yard run with 3:43 to go in the third. Martinez' extra point was good to give the Tigers a 28-20 lead.

Martinez was a weapon for the Tigers all night, averaging an electrifying 43 yards on his three kickoff returns and nailing all five of his extra point opportunities, which proved to be crucial.

On Claremore's next drive, Derrick Reliford scored from four yards out to bring the score to 28-26 with 11:56 to play, but Brown's pass to Caleb Webster on the two-point try was wide.

Reliford, who ran for 181 yards last week against East Central, had a relatively quiet 91 yards on 19 carries. Pryor held Claremore to 92 rush yards on 30 attempts. Brown threw for 252 yards and two scores on 14-of-29 passing but coughed up the game-sealing fumble.

Matt McGouldrick pitched in 58 yards on the ground on 17 totes. Alex Yates led the Tigers on the receiving end, catching four balls for 41 yards and helping the Tigers convert five of their 11 third-down opportunities (45 percent). Ogg caught a pair of passes for 23 yards. McCammon notched two sacks and a fumble recovery.

"It feels great. They are a great team," McCammon, a captain, said. "It was down to the wire on this one. I've never played a game like that before. It was intense. Exciting."

""They have some athletes, and we knew that," Freeman said. "They've got some good skill guys. They're a dang good team, so we knew we were going to have a tough time. It's heart and determination, it's not backing down from anybody. Just a credit to our kids.

"[Claremore] is more talented than we are, and we still beat 'em."

Pryor will travel to Tahlequah Oct. 25 with a chance to improve their district standing. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.

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