MIDWEST CITY — For the first 11 minutes of the second half, negative momentum just kept piling up against Guthrie in Friday night's clash of Class 5A's No. 1 vs. No. 2.
Top-ranked Carl Albert's Stevie Thompson had returned an interception for a touchdown to tie the game, then he popped the No. 2 Bluejays again with a 32-yard, go-ahead touchdown run on offense.
And in between, Guthrie's star running back, Kai Callins, limped off the field with an injury.
At the brink of potentially being dump-trucked by the defending Class 5A champion Titans, Guthrie running back Idae Alexander turned it all around with two crucial touchdown runs to give the Bluejays a 28-21 win at Carl Albert.
The 5-foot-8, 180-pound junior took a handoff on third down-and-three from the Guthrie 47 late in the third quarter and shot through the line on his way to a 53-yard touchdown.
Callins re-entered the game and intercepted a Thompson pass two plays later, but Alexander was the workhorse on the vital 13-play touchdown drive that followed. He carried the ball eight times on the drive, scoring from 7 yards out to put Guthrie on top 28-21.
“He's made big plays for us all year,” quarterback Reed Roberts said. “Idae is gonna run you over and get as many yards as he can, and that really helps out in tough games like this.”
Alexander finished with 182 yards on 21 carries, with 130 yards and two scores on 17 rushes in the second half. Callins had 73 yards on 18 attempts, but carried only once after getting hurt.
Yet after all that, it was a clutch defensive stop that clinched the game for the Bluejays.
Guthrie fumbled a punt snap with just over two minutes to play, giving Carl Albert the ball 17 yards away from tying the game. After a 1-yard run by Thompson on first down, the Titans had three incomplete passes on tightly covered plays by the Guthrie secondary, turning the ball over on downs and sealing the Bluejay victory.
“Defense wins games for you, as our guys showed tonight,” Roberts said. “Having that ‘it's never over til it's over' mentality is really gonna help us going through the rest of the season.”
Guthrie revealed the best way to keep Thompson, the Titans' star quarterback, corralled — don't let him touch the ball.
Carl Albert ran only 16 offensive plays in the second half, after Thompson had accounted for 199 yards on 15 carries alone in the first half. Thompson finished with 266 rushing yards and threw for 44, but the Bluejays came up with two crucial defensive stops in the fourth quarter on the Titans only possessions in the period.
“I can't say enough about our defense to only give up only 14 points to that offense,” coach Rafe Watkins said. “But it was a team effort. It sounds like a broken record, but it was a typical Guthrie-Carl Albert game
“Just a roller-coaster of emotions through the whole game. Our kids never panicked. They got after it, and showed the heart of a champion tonight.”