After an historic win for Broken Arrow on Friday night, coach David Alexander addressed his team on the Union-Tuttle Stadium field.
“This was a statement win,” Alexander said. “But the state championship game was not played tonight.”
Defending Class 6AI state champion Broken Arrow ended a streak of 18 consecutive losing trips to Union with a 14-0 victory. It was the top-ranked Tigers’ first win at Union since 1986.
In addition, the Tigers (2-0) handed the No. 4 Redskins (0-2) their first shutout loss since falling 13-0 on Sept. 13, 1991 at Enid. Broken Arrow, which had been 1-36 against Union since 1989 before last year’s win, has victories over Union in consecutive seasons for the first time. The Tigers had two wins in a row over Union in ‘83 and ‘86.
“It feels unbelievable, it’s always nice to make history,” said Broken Arrow wideout Isaiah Keller, who had three catches for 147 yards and a touchdown. “We just had a great game plan coming in and we executed very well.”
Union suffered its first shutout loss at home since dropping the 1988 opener, 13-0, to Booker T. Washington.
“Our defense played 48 minutes of fantastic football,” Alexander said.
In the first half, Broken Arrow gave up only 20 yards and Union didn’t pick up its initial first down until a roughing-the-passer penalty as time expired. But the Tigers went into intermission tied as Union’s defense, despite being saddled with poor field position throughout the first half, kept Broken Arrow scoreless. Union’s Micah Walker ended two Broken Arrow scoring threats with fourth-down sacks.
The scoreless deadlock didn’t last long, however. In the second half’s opening minute, Keller got behind the Union secondary and caught Jake Raines’ 75-yard bomb for a touchdown.
“It was definitely a big spark on our offense and after that we just started rolling,” Keller said. ”Jake executed as he usually does. With our defense, I didn’t care if we got a field goal or a touchdown, I knew as long as we scored we’d be fine.
“We knew from when they played (Mansfield) Lake Ridge (last week), they gave up a lot of deep passes that we could execute on.”
But except for Keller’s lone first-half reception, a 41-yarder, the Tigers weren’t throwing any deep passes before halftime. Keller’s TD came after Jaeyland Johnson had a 5-yard run on first down.
“In the first half our offense was out of rhythm and we were behind the sticks,” Alexander said. “All it took for us was to get a nice little run on first down because we knew we had some guys outside with Tory (Dillard) and Isaiah Keller who could go make some plays for us.
“When we have a negative play on first down and it’s 2nd-and-14, you don’t get the coverage you get when it’s 2nd-and-6. We couldn’t take any deep shots when they were in a softer zone coverage, we had to be on schedule, get to 2nd-and-6 or 5 and then you can take those shots.”
Six minutes later, Keller had a 31-yard reception and Dillard caught a 30-yard pass to set up Johnson’s 1-yard TD run that made it 14-0 midway through the third quarter. Johnson finished with 73 yards on 25 carries.
During the rest of the game, Union had two drives that reached inside the Broken Arrow 15, but both stalled on downs. Two dropped passes derailed the first threat and Brandon Barwig’s sack ended the second. Adonis Ballard had an interception in the final moments to seal the shutout.
“It feels great that a lot of hard work paid off,” Tigers defensive tackle Jaylen Moss said. “At halftime, we had a talk in the locker room to keep pushing and that we just had to do our job.”