PERKINS — It was the fourth quarter — the biggest 15 minutes in Cushing's football season thus far — and coach Barrett Shupe knew exactly where he had to go.
To this point in the season, Shupe had rode junior running back Gage Stallworth to an undefeated league record. In Thursday's rivalry game at Perkins, that wasn't going to stop.
It was only going to expand.
Stallworth carried the ball 16 times in the fourth quarter (out of 18 plays) for 169 yards and three touchdowns, helping seal a huge 42-27 win over Perkins and a comfortable spot right behind Seminole in District 3A-2.
“He's a tough kid,” Shupe said of Stallworth. “We're talking about the 160-pound state champ last year in wrestling, an All-American this summer. And our O-line was blocking so well, we're not going to stop doing what was working.”
Overall, Stallworth rushed 39 times for 347 yards and five of the Tigers' six touchdowns, providing a good balance of power and speed throughout a dominant game.
“I kept asking him every series, ‘Are you good?' And he kept telling me to keep giving it to him,” Shupe said. “The thing about Gage Stallworth, and he burst onto the scene all season but especially tonight, is that Gage lives for these moments. He's all about the big moments.”
And in that big moment, the workhorse hand-delivered Cushing a huge victory, marking the first time the school had beat Perkins in the past six attempts.
Sitting at 7-1 overall and 5-0 in league, the Tigers have set up a monumental game with undefeated Seminole next weekend in Cushing.
“Huge win tonight, but we aren't done,” Shupe said. “The number one team in the state is coming to our place. We know we are going to have to play our best game, they are a great football team, but we're excited about the opportunity.”