WARR ACRES — Putnam City's young defense made all the big plays during the first half against Sapulpa.
But the youthful Pirates failed to do so when it mattered most, surrendering 14 unanswered points in the second half and falling 17-7 to the Chieftains on Thursday night at Putnam City Stadium.
“They're a quality, senior-laden team and we're starting a lot of sophomores,” Putnam City coach John Wofford said. “We had some of our young kids make mistakes late in the game, in the secondary especially. We've just got to get better.”
Sapulpa (4-0 overall, 1-0 District 6A-2) came into the game averaging 50 points per game, but it was held in check until the final play of the third quarter when Austin Smith found receiver Ben Johnson for a 20-yard touchdown on a halfback pass to put the Chieftains up 10-7.
The go-ahead score was set up by a 28-yard connection between Johnson and senior quarterback Sam Gottsch. The two hooked up six times, including a 7-yard touchdown to put Sapulpa up 10 with 5:30 remaining.
“Maybe it was just the long bus ride or something,” said Sam Gottsch of the Chieftains' slow start. “But we knew in the second half if we kept pressing something good was going to happen.
“I know I can just throw it up to him (Johnson), and he can catch anything. It's very comforting to have a guy like that.”
Putnam City (2-2, 0-1) struggled to defend Johnson all night. The 6-foot-5 senior had seven catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns.