GUTHRIE — Down 6 points with less than a minute and a half remaining Friday, Tulsa East Central quarterback John McDavid pitched a shovel pass to Tyler Coddington.
Coddington fumbled, Guthrie senior linebacker Landry Chappell dove on the loose ball at the 49-yard line and the Bluejays retook possession with 1:11 left.
“There was no way I wasn't getting that ball,” Chappell said.
No. 1 Guthrie beat No. 5 Tulsa East Central 20-14 at Jelsma Stadium on Friday, securing a spot in the Class 5A semifinals for the third consecutive year.
And the Bluejays had to earn it.
Guthrie got off to a fast start, taking a 13-0 first-quarter lead.
After an East Central touchdown, Guthrie was threatening to retake a two-possession lead. But Bluejays' quarterback Bryan Dutton threw a red zone interception.
“That was on me,” Dutton said. “We had miscommunication. Just a lot of little things, a lot of mental errors. We've gotta correct them, because it only gets harder from here.”
The Bluejays took their 13-7 lead into halftime, but on the first play of the second half, Tulsa East Central running back Malachi Neal popped a 75-yard touchdown run to give the Cardinals their only lead of the night.
“That play aggravates me,” said senior linebacker John Clark. “That was a big bust. It was very out of character for our defense, but we played good overall.”
Guthrie answered right back, though, with an eight-play, 66-yard drive, capped by an 11-yard touchdown run by senior Luke Davis.
“I was really proud of our young men for coming back down and answering,” said Guthrie coach Rafe Watkins.
“That was a championship drive.”
Watkins watched from the stands for the second game of his eight-game suspension stemming from Guthrie's use of an ineligible player earlier this year.
Guthrie was almost forced to miss the playoffs altogether but had its eight forfeits overturned on appeal by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association board of directors.
Now, the Bluejays will face No. 3 McAlester and their prolific passing attack, led by quarterback Tony Kiefer, in next week's semifinal.
“We do good against pass teams,” Clark said. “It's gonna be a great game.
“All we can do is come out and play our hardest, and use the heart we've showed all year to keep playing like this.”