By Jacob Sturm
Midwest City Beacon
Piedmont looked to be in no rush to get the ball snapped as the seconds ticked down near halftime.
In Carl Albert’s 38-24 victory against Piedmont, the frustrations were abound through a heavy dosage of misdirection courtesy of the Piedmont Wildcats.
What seemed like a challenge against the Carl Albert Titans high powered offense had shifted into a clock management battle for Piedmont’s skilled offensive players once the Wildcats’ triple option system took effect, and the Titans’ defense seemed to be reeling.
Cannon Wood, Piedmont’s lead fullback, shined as he marched down the field methodically with simply positive yardage on every carry of the half, and capped the nearly quarter-long Piedmont drive with a 1-yard touchdown untouched.
That prompted the uneasiness from the crowd to become a reality, and that’s before an onside kick was recovered with 59 seconds until halftime leading to a last second field goal to grow the Titans’ deficit to 24-10 heading into halftime.
“We just didn’t really play great assignment football in the first half,” Carl Albert coach Mike Dunn said. “If you don’t play really good assignment football, it’s hard to stop it (triple option offenses).”
The second half offered more of what Carl Albert had been doing right. That involved consistent swing passes to
Trystan Haynes and Trynae Washington, and strong running from Xavier Robinson despite the unusual circumstances of trailing.
“We trust all of those guys to go make plays,” Dunn said. “Kevin (Sperry Jr.) does a great job of spreading it around and getting it to the right guy… You want your big-time players to step up in big time games, and that’s what they did tonight.”
The real test came defensively, where Carl Albert struggled to slow down the triple option attack that buried the Titans’ in the hole through the opening 24 minutes. Dunn said the Titans played the actual game plan out of halftime, and made the right reads when playing the correct assignments.
That started with an early stop that rejuvenated the defensive efforts once the second half started, and eventually led to Carl Albert finding the end zone following a plethora of penalties making the touchdown more challenging in the short term.
Another stop got the crowd involved, and Carl Albert capitalized as the pressure ramped up with a 62-yard pass to Washington and a 2-yard touchdown run from Sperry Jr. Washington would also close the game with an interception that was ruled a touchdown after a long discussion.
“Every time we play, we always come out of halftime better, playing faster and harder no matter how good we started off,” Washington said. “… We pulled through and ended up making a big play and getting those points, and shutting down Piedmont in the second half.”
Trystan Haynes then scored on a 52-yard pass the following series, forcing the triple option offense of Piedmont into uncomfortable situations the rest of the night.
“I was proud of our guys for stepping up in the second half, and going and showing people that you can be a different team,” Dunn said. “It’s a game of two halves, and we came out in the second half as the team that we thought we were going to be going into the game.”
The Titans will begin their playoff road at home Friday night against El Reno (6-4, 5-2). The winner will face Coweta/Collinsville in the quarterfinals next week.