EDMOND — That first date can be a bit awkward.
From the formal introduction to the "getting to know you" phase, it can be hard to be at ease, relax and have a good time.
But none of that bothered Carl Albert on Friday night.
Nope, the fourth-ranked Titans waltzed inside Heflin Field and left quite an impression in their first meeting with Deer Creek. Using their speed, quarterback Taylor Hawkins and defense, Carl Albert pounded the No. 8 Antlers, 31-7 and wrapped up at least a second-place finish in District 5A-1.
The Titans (7-2, 5-1) got the job done in the first half, mostly because of cross country touchdown runs from Darvonta Knight, Kenton Whittington and Tank Richmond.
Meanwhile, the defense pitched a shutout through 26 minutes and picked off three Antler passes before surrendering a score mid-way through the third quarter.
Deer Creek (6-3, 4-2) averaged just over 260 yards rushing a game coming into the contest, relying on their helmet-busting power game led by senior Alex Christensen.
But the Antlers managed just 80 on this night, eight first downs, two in the first half.
The Titans defense traded small size for big hits, limiting the 240-pound Christiansen to 74 yards and touchdown.
"Our guys aren't big, but they play hard and they get after people," Carl Albert coach Gary Rose said.ï¿½
"We did a heckuva job in the first half...didn't play quite as well in the second, but we'll take it. This was our first time to play here. We certainly looked at it as a challenge. They have a good program and we expected a good ball game. It's a big win for us on the road."
In the second half, Rose gave the game to his quarterback, Hawkins.
The junior finished with 25 carries for 109 yards rushing — a game high — and 80 passing.
"He did a nice job of doing what we wanted," Rose said. "We wanted to run the clock and he did. That's what we wanted him to do, just shorten the game."
So while the Titans were content in the second half to watch Hawkins grind it out, it was the speed of their tailbacks in the first half that made all the difference.
First it was Knight, a 5-foot-1 sophomore. Knight was lightning in a bottle, darting and weaving his way from 43 yards out for the Titans' first score, concluding a short two-play drive.
He finished with 60 yards on eight carries.
Then came Whittington. The senior's 63-yard run boosted the lead to 17-0. He added his second touchdown on a 14-yard end around late in the fourth quarter.
Richmond's score came on what looked like an nice improvisation by Hawkins.
The quarterback took a keeper and cut up the middle but the lane was clogged. He stopped, looked right and pitched to Richmond, who raced his way to the end zone from 26 yards out. The junior also added three catches for 42 yards.