BROKEN ARROW — If you see Broken Arrow football coach David Alexander on Saturday and mention that his team’s execution wasn’t always crisp and that his offense failed to capitalize on several big-play opportunities, his response might be, “So what?”
Alexander will care Monday, after he has reviewed the video of his squad’s Friday night opener, but during the weekend, he and everyone else in Broken Arrow get to savor a sweet outcome.
A standing-room-only crowd of 11,000 jammed into Memorial Stadium watched the second-ranked Tigers dissipate some psychological scar tissue by defeating their most prominent nemesis — top-ranked Union.
During his first start as the BA quarterback, Tate Robards recovered from an uneven first half to convert on important second-half throws. The Tiger defense twice stopped Union on critical fourth-down plays, and Noah Cortes electrified the BA student section by scoring at that end of the field — the south end — with 1:43 left to play.
That touchdown was the knockout shot in a 33-10 Tiger triumph.
With Cortes rushing for 157 yards and two scores, Broken Arrow made nearly as emphatic a statement as Owasso made when it routed Jenks to open the 2017 season.
Before Friday, the Tigers were 1-36 against the Redskins since 1990.
When the Tulsa World’s Barry Lewis refreshes the Class 6AI rankings Sunday, Broken Arrow will have supplanted Union in the No. 1 position.
UFC octagon announcer Bruce Buffer provided the bombastic, prerecorded voiceover for the pregame video, concluding his involvement with, “It’s Time!!!!!”
Time for what?
Yet another Union victory in this series?
Or for a Broken Arrow breakthrough?
During a steamy evening, the fourth-quarter temperature of 87 degrees resulted in leg-cramping issues for athletes on both sides.
A full moon hovered above the stadium and might have had an adverse effect on the Union punt team. There was a 19-yard punt, a botched punt snap that resulted in a safety and a 22-yard punt.
The 22-yarder occurred during the third quarter. Broken Arrow responded with its most important possession of the game.
One of Baker Mayfield’s defining characteristics is a fantastic ability to extend plays and find receivers downfield. Robards was Mayfield-esque when he avoided heavy pressure, stepped up into the pocket and pitched the football to Isaiah Keller for a 9-yard touchdown.
The 22-yard Union punt gave Broken Arrow excellent field position at the Tiger 45. Seven plays later, Alexander’s team led 19-10.
Traditionally, a nine-point deficit hasn’t resulted in stress for Redskin coach Kirk Fridrich. Union has a history of scoring touchdowns in bunches, but on Friday there wasn’t any touchdown after the 11:22 mark of the second period.
Union finished with a modest average of only 4.1 yards per play and usually dynamic Redskin running back Darius Boone was limited to 45 rushing yards, making a nine-point difference insurmountable.
Alexander has been candid with his assessment that this Broken Arrow team is the best of the five he has coached, and the Tiger offensive line was this game’s most dominant position group after halftime.
Broken Arrow played powerball as fullback Kaizer Newell dived over right guard Trevor Burkhartzmeyer and into the end zone for a 26-10 cushion.
The late Cortes TD finished Union. As Redskin fans headed to the parking lot, the Broken Arrow people stayed until time expired — and then stayed a little longer.
Beating Union is a special occasion.
Broken Arrow has never won a state football championship. The 6AI finish line is three months away, and the Tigers have a difficult schedule that includes a home game against a strong Texas opponent (Mansfield High) next week, but Broken Arrow looked stout coming out of the 2018 starting block.