Second-ranked McAlester came into Saturday night's Class 5A state championship game averaging more than 60 points per game in the postseason — including back-to-back 50-point outings against No. 3 Carl Albert and No. 4 Lawton MacArthur.
But Guthrie's defense finally found an answer for the Buffs, who had 300 total yards and a season-low point total in the 51-21 Bluejay victory at Boone Pickens Stadium.
“It just felt like we couldn't get in a rhythm offensively,” McAlester coach Bryan Pratt said. “We knew they were gonna bring some pressure, and we thought we'd be able to hurt them with some quick passing. We did that, but the turnovers killed us. Just couldn't get in any breaks, and it seemed like we kept getting ourselves behind the eight-ball every time we got a chance.”
Kelyn Hinds and Zontè Veasley had 11 tackles apiece for the Guthrie defense, which had four takeaways. Kai Callins and L'liott Curry each had an interception, and the defensive front kept constant pressure on McAlester quarterback Dalton Wood.
McAlester entered the game averaging nearly 270 rushing yards per game, but finished with 120 on 26 attempts.
“The good thing about having the two-week layoff is that it was like salt in the wound for a little bit longer about how great — and there's no denying McAlester's offense is as good as we've seen in years,” Guthrie coach Rafe Watkins said. “But our defense, we're pretty proud of also. They did it tonight against a good offense.
“We've heard about how our offense couldn't stay up with their offense scoring points. It ate on our kids.”
HALFTIME HAIL MARY SWINGS MOMENTUM
It looked like McAlester would go into the locker room at halftime with all the momentum, even if it didn't have the lead.
With Guthrie threatening to take a 23-7 lead in the final minute of the second quarter, the Buffs came up with an interception in the end zone, then drove down to score a touchdown and instead cut the deficit to 16-14.
But a 32-yard return by Veasley on the ensuing kickoff put Guthrie at the McAlester 41 with 6 seconds left. And quarterback Reed Roberts fired a perfectly placed pass to Curry for the touchdown as the clock expired.
Curry got surprisingly open after a McAlester defender fell down.
“As soon as I saw the safety fall down, my mouth started drooling,” Curry said. “I knew as soon as he threw that ball, I was gonna catch it.
“These last two weeks, me and Reed have been building chemistry. He threw the balls, all I did was catch 'em.”
Roberts completed 7-of-9 passes for 161 yards, with Curry catching five for 130 yards. The Bluejays didn't attempt a pass in the second half.