SPERRY — They have a state football championship in their recent past, but the Sperry Pirates hadn’t won a district title in 27 years.
They corrected that Friday by beating the team that denied them last year’s District 2A-3 title and the team they defeated in last year’s 2A state final.
Cooper Park threw two touchdown passes to Kohlby Foster, Joe Whiteley had two TD runs and the 2A No. 1 Pirates forced four second-half turnovers and pulled away to a 33-15 triumph over No. 6 Beggs before an estimated 3,000 spectators in Sperry’s Herrington Field.
Sperry (10-0, 7-0) wrapped up its first undefeated regular season since 1941 and moved on to host Kansas in the first round of the playoffs. Beggs (8-2, 6-1) also is at home in the first round and will play Nowata next Friday.
Foster had three big plays in the first half, and one of them turned everything Sperry’s way. In what started out like a track meet, the teams combined for TDs on five consecutive possessions.
Sperry led 20-15 with nine minutes left in the first half. It might have stayed that way until Beggs went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Demons’ 29 with less than a minute left in the first half.
Beggs sent sophomore CJ Brown left on a handoff, and he appeared to have running room that way, but instead he was dropped for a 3-yard loss.
From the Demons’ 36 with 23 seconds left, Park evaded the rush long enough to find Foster coming back across the middle. Foster caught the pass around the Beggs 25 and raced into the far corner of the end zone with defenders frantically chasing him.
“Cooper baseball-threw it into me, he threw it kind of sidearm and put it right into my arms,” said Foster, who also caught a 65-yard TD pass from Park and had a 43-yard kickoff return to set up another score. “We work on that play every day in practice, just coming back on the ball.”
Robert Park, Sperry’s coach and Cooper’s dad, said it was a big play in a big game.
“Cooper saw Kohlby across the middle and (Beggs defenders) had backed up, so he had a little space to run when he got the ball and got loose. That was a big play right before half, and we had the ball to start the third quarter,” Robert Park said.
Sperry opened the second half with a six-play, 61-yard drive capped by Whiteley’s second TD run from 19 yards and the Pirates had opened a 33-15 lead.
Bryce Carter, Carson Hendrix and Whiteley intercepted passes and Carter recovered a fumble as the Pirates finally put the wraps on Beggs quarterback Dusty Pendergrass, who threw for a TD and most of his 196 yards and also had a rushing score in the first half.
“Sperry’s got a great football team and we answered a lot of questions for ourselves tonight,” Beggs coach David Tenison said. “We have grown immensely since the beginning of the season and we’re gonna keep growing the next five weeks.”
Kendal Davis, the Demons’ powerful three-star junior, also had a huge game, catching seven passes for 111 yards. In one sequence in the second quarter, he took a short pass from Pendergrass and rambled 24 yards with four defenders wrapped around him.
On the next play, he went high in a crowd over the middle to haul in a 36-yard pass to the Sperry 1, setting up Pendergrass’ rushing TD on the next play.
Beggs went for two after that score when a Sperry moved the ball closer and led 15-14, only the second time Sperry has trailed this season.
But the deficit didn’t last long because Park delivered a 65-yard bomb to Whiteley the second play following the ensuing kickoff and the Pirates led 20-15.
Foster said winning the district title for Robert Park was a big deal “because it means a lot to him. To see that man cry just a little is big because he never shows any emotion.”