WEATHERFORD — It was a classic setting for a state championship game: two unbeaten teams and two of the last three champions battling for the Class C title at Milam Stadium.
Tanner Ducotey and the Cherokee Chiefs capped a perfect season by defeating Tipton 38-14, halting the Tigers' bid for back-to-back state championships. Ducotey rushed for 275 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Tanner Bowman went for 112 yards and three scores to propel the Chiefs to their second championship in four seasons.
Ducotey and Bowman set the pace early, carrying the ball 10 times on the Chiefs' opening drive as Cherokee went 67 yards in 12 plays to take the early 8-0 lead after Bowman's first score of the night, a 1-yard run. Bowman struck again on the second drive, this time from 19 yards out, allowing the Chiefs to take a 16-0 lead after one quarter.
Ducotey broke a 37-yard touchdown run with 4:12 to play in the second quarter, but Jagger Jones took the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown to pull Tipton to within a margin of 24-6 at the break. Tipton got their other score early on the first play of the fourth quarter as Antonio Leyja barreled into the end zone from one yard out to cap off an eight-play, 62-yard drive.
Cherokee dominated with its ground game, rushing the ball 55 times for 466 yards while attempting just two passes. Tipton countered with 214 yards on the ground, with 114 coming from Gerald White, but two Tiger drives were stopped on downs at the Cherokee 1-yard line to end scoring threats. White and the Tigers struggled to get the ball moving through the air, and he finished 3-of-10 passing for 36 yards with two interceptions.
It was Ducotey and Bowman who accounted for the two scores by Cherokee in the second half as well. Ducotey broke off his longest run of the game, a 67-yard touchdown scamper, with 3:13 to play in the third quarter, and Bowman rumbled in from 19 yards out with 5:46 in the game for the final points of the game.