TULSA — It would have taken a sandblaster to get the smile off Cordale Grundy's face Friday night.
Tulsa Washington's sophomore quarterback, forced into action when starter Bennett White was injured just before halftime, threw the perfect pass at the perfect time, hitting Myles Tease in stride on his way to a 90-yard touchdown that was the final blow Tulsa Washington needed for a 24-7 win over Douglass at S.E. Williams Stadium.
“I knew sooner or later I'd get my opportunity,” Grundy said. “You've got to make the best of it. No looking back. I knew we had to take the shot. Win or lose, you've got to take your shot.”
The return of one of the state's great rivalries didn't disappoint. The Hornets led 10-7 after three physically grinding quarters, then they hit a pair of big plays to put Douglass away.
First was a 32-yard return of a fumbled punt snap by Hornet senior James Caligone. After a long Douglass drive stalled with the Trojans' fourth fumble of the night, first-year Washington coach Marvin Dantzler saw the opportunity to strike.
It might not have appeared like the ideal moment, with his team facing second-and-20 at its own 10-yard line, with a second-string sophomore quarterback who was 1-of-5 passing to that point. But Dantzler had confidence.
“They were thinking we were gonna run the clock out,” Dantzler said. “We knew we could get over the top, but we knew we'd only have one opportunity to try it. I felt comfortable with Cordale making that throw.”
White, who spent the second half with his leg stretched out on the bench after suffering an ankle sprain, was unable to contain himself after Grundy's big throw.
“I actually got in a little trouble, because I jumped up and started cheering,” he said. “Cordale had been preparing all week, and he did a great job.”
On the opposite sideline, Douglass coach Willis Alexander could easily point to the mistakes that cost his team.
“Turnovers are the difference,” said Alexander, whose team gave the ball away five times in all. “A three-score game and they scored three times off our turnovers. Every turnover, they capitalized off of. If we hold onto the ball down inside the 10, they don't have the opportunity for the 90-yard pass.”
Defensively, Douglass played well, allowing 135 of the Hornets' 245 total yards on two pass plays, both on scoring drives. Washington had only eight first downs, two of them in the second half.
The win ups the Hornets' record in the all-time series to 53-22-3 in the first meeting since the 2002 playoffs. And the intensity of the game was alive and well.
“This was great,” Caligone said. “It was fun out here. Being out here, finding out who the real orange and black is, I loved it. I wish I could come back next year so I could do it again.”