Sports Sunday Correspondent
CATOOSA—Two (good) quarters do not a complete football game make.
Catoosa’s Indians learned that lesson in earnest Friday night.
After battling sixth-ranked Coweta to within a point at halftime, the Indians relaxed in the second half and the Tigers erupted for 18 third-quarter points on the way to a 31-6 Class 5A-4 victory at Frank McNabb Field.
The setback dropped Catoosa to 2-4, and 1-2 in district play. Coweta improved to 5-1 and 3-0.
“There is a reason why Coweta is a top-10 ranked ball club in the state,” Indian coach Greg Whiteley said.
“You have to play four quarters against them if you expect to win. We only played two quarters.”
Catoosa trailed, 7-6, at halftime. In fact, the Indians grabbed the lead first in the contest.
Catoosa’s defense forced Coweta into a three-and-out series on the Tigers’ first offensive possession.
When Coweta’s Alex Elliott dropped back to punt near his 20-yard line, the Indians’ Anthony Verano broke through the line and blocked the punt.
The ball rolled into the Tiger end zone where Billy Minnick covered it for a touchdown and a 6-0 Catoosa lead just 2:40 into the game.
Catoosa’s defense came up big on a couple of other occasions in the first half.
After Coweta had driven to a first-and-goal on the Indian eight late in the first quarter, the Tigers were denied any points when four straight rushes left Coweta still one yard short of the goal line.
Then, in the final two minutes of the half, Coweta took over on the Indian 31 after the Tigers’ Amos Cherry intercepted a Doug Quinn pass that had been tipped by Tiger lineman Blake Dirteater.
Coweta drove to the Indian 10, but the Indians’ Bobby McDonald stepped in front of an Elliott pass for an interception at the Indian two to keep it a one-point contest at the half.
Coweta then opened the second half by driving 68 yards in 10 plays to score on an eight-yard pass from Elliott to Maverick Morsey.
The Tigers then went to their bag of tricks to make a play that turned the momentum in their favor.
On its next possession after the Morsey TD reception, a Coweta drive stalled at the Indian 45-yard line.
Facing a fourth-and-six, Elliott lined up deep in the Tiger backfield as if to punt.
But instead of punting, Elliott took the snap and threw a pass to Brandon Voss along the right sideline.
Voss motored through a surprised Indian special team unit to complete a 45-yard touchdown that stretched the Tiger advantage to 19-6 at 4:18 of the third quarter.
“You think you have all that stuff covered going into a game,” Whiteley said. “But you have to give credit to Coweta. Their staff outcoached us in the second half.”
After missing scoring opportunities in the first two quarters, Coweta coach Trandy Birch thought the fake punt was worth the gamble.
“We moved the ball up and down the field in the first half and just couldn’t seem to find the end zone,” Birch said.
With the Tiger offensive line starting to control the line of scrimmage, Coweta went on to add two final touchdowns on a 24-yard run by running back Matt Kilgore and a 16-yard dash by Elliott.
Kilgore, who tallied Coweta’s first-half touchdown on a 21-yard run, ended up with a 189 yards rushing on 35 carries — both game highs.
Elliott added 41 yards on the ground as Coweta amassed 236 yards rushing.
Meanwhile, Catoosa managed just 62 net yards on 37 attempts.
The Indians committed four turnovers, losing two fumbles while Catoosa quarterbacks Quinn and Casey Conley combined for a pair of interceptions.
“We had some adversity in the game and just didn’t respond well,” Whiteley said.
COWETA 31, CATOOSA 6
Coweta 0 7 18 6 — 31
Catoosa 6 0 0 0 — 6
Catoosa — Minnick recovered blocked punt in end zone (kick failed)
Coweta — Kilgore 21 run (Pearce kick)
Coweta — Morsey 8 pass from Elliott (kick failed)
Coweta — Voss 45 pass from Elliott (pass failed)
Coweta — Kilgore 24 run (kick failed)
Coweta — Elliott 16 run (kick failed)
Coweta — Kilgore 35-189.
Catoosa — Bergeron 12-33, Conley 2-33.
Coweta — Elliott 8-19-97, 2TD.
Catoosa — Quinn 2-10-20.
Coweta — Morsey 5-40.
Catoosa — McDonald 4-21.