‘Show no mercy...’
Seven weeks into the season, that’s the message Claremore defensive coordinator Jarrett Hurtt has instilled into his ‘Wrecking Crew’ defense.
And, by the end of Friday’s 31-7 thrashing of the Pryor Tigers, the mission was accomplished.
“Our main goal all week was to stop 24 (Smallwood),” Claremore junior free safety Hunter Garroutte said.
Smallwood, who entered the Rogers-Mayes County rivalry with 1,053 rushing yards on 126 carries and 18 touchdowns, was kept in check by a feisty Zebra defense that held Pryor’s ground attack well below its average at 152 yards.
The Tigers’ tailback scored Pryor’s only touchdown — a 34-yard run in the second quarter that cut Claremore’s lead to 14-7 going into halftime.
“We knew if Smallwood got going, he could be a game-changer,” Claremore head coach Rob Gilbreath said. “...Just last week, he had 382 yards and six touchdowns on Grove.”
But, against the Zebras defense, he hobbled off the field in the third quarter after punishing hits from Claremore linebackers Gage Meisinger, Baron Hope and Jordan Cunningham and never returned.
“Shutting down Smallwood was a big momentum boost,” Gilbreath said.
Big enough that Claremore’s defense helped fuel the Zebras’ offensive explosion in the second half.
Clinging to a 14-7 lead — thanks to Brycen Short’s 7-yard touchdown run and Hunter Garroutte’s 21-yard touchdown pass from Matt Whatley in the second quarter — the Zebras rolled off 17 unanswered points in the final 24 minutes.
According to Gilbreath, “In the locker room at halftime, I told the team that we didn’t want to have another third quarter like we did last week at East Central. We had to come out and set the tone early.”
And, did they (Zebras) ever, especially with a smash-mouth running game — led by sophomore tailback Derrick Reliford.
“We’ve been waiting for Derrick (Reliford) to have that breakout game,” Gilbreath said. “And tonight, he ran hard and was able to get in the end zone.”
Reliford led the Claremore running game with 13 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown.
Claremore’s ability to run at will against Pryor’s defense helped open up the passing game for Whatley.
After Whatley’s first touchdown pass — a 21-yarder to Garroutte in the second quarter — the junior signal-caller connected with senior fullback James Chester on a 7-yard screen pass down the right sideline. Jared Vincent converted the extra point and Claremore jumped out to a 21-7 lead.
Gilbreath said that Chester’s touchdown was set up because of Dustin Basks’ huge punt return that got the Zebras inside Pryor’s 45-yard line.
“We get a big lift from Dustin on special teams, and then (James) Chester’s able to rumble for down the sideline, I knew then that we were ready to take the game over,” Gilbreath added.
Claremore’s defense forced three Pryor turnovers — interceptions by Hope and Garroutte and a fumble recovery by Cunningham — and held the Tigers to 282 total offensive yards.
The momentum continued to stay in Claremore’s favor when Reliford’s 32-yard burst behind the blocking of Sean Pogue and John McQueen set up his 2-yard touchdown run with 8.1 seconds remaining in the third quarter to put the Zebras ahead 28-7.
Claremore sealed the deal with 7:30 left in the game on Vincent’s 28-yard field goal.
Zebra defense punishes Tigers, RB Smallwood injured in 3rd quarter
‘Show no mercy...’
Hrdlicka, Teter pour ‘heart’ into Zebra soccer program
For the past four years, Claremore High School seniors Katelin Teter and Nick Hrdlicka have represented the ‘heart and soul’ of the Lady Zebra and Zebra soccer programs.
The soccer duo will join seven other seniors on Friday night for Homecoming against Collinsville at Lantow Field.
9 straight for Lady Zebras
Claremore sophomore forward Bailey Steckline got the ‘hat-trick’ plus one Tuesday night in the Lady Zebras’ 10-0 win over Tulsa Memorial at LaFortune Stadium.
Steckline tallied two goals in the first half, and added two more in the second to complete her impressive night.
Tulsa Memorial holds off Zebras, 2-1
Tulsa Memorial scored a pair of first-half goals to steal the momentum away from the Claremore Zebras, as well as the 2-1 win Tuesday night in Metro Lakes Conference action at LaFortune Stadium.
BASEBALL: Whatley, Howe power Zebras past Tahlequah
Claremore’s Matt Whatley has proven over the past four years that he’s one of the toughest outs in the Metro Lakes Conference.
On Tuesday, Whatley went 3-for-4 with two singles and a triple while sparking the Zebras to a 12-2 win over Tahlequah in five innings at American Legion Park.
BASEBALL: Dewey takes pair from Sequoyah
It’s very difficult to win when you can’t score.
Class 4A third-ranked Dewey blanked homestanding Sequoyah 7-0 and 2-0 in a district doubleheader on Tuesday, improving to 21-3 with a dominating two-hit pitching performance in the opener and a four-hitter in the nightcap.
SOCCER: Sequoyah topples No. 15 Catoosa, 1-0
Sequoyah boys soccer coach Bob Campbell had one phrase to sum up his feelings following the Eagles’ game with 15th ranked Catoosa at home Tuesday night.
“We’re in the driver’s seat.’’
Alex Bourgeois scored late in the first half and Sequoyah made it stand up for a 1-0 victory over the Indians in a showdown for the district lead.
Jackson sprints Zebras to 1st place at OBU Relays
Claremore senior sprinter Tyler Jackson felt the need for speed Wednesday afternoon at the Oklahoma Baptist University High School Invitational.
Jackson notched a pair of first-place victories in the 200-meter dash and the 400-meter dash to help Claremore earn 130 points for top honors.
BASEBALL: Arkansas Tech roughs up ‘Cats
The Rogers State University baseball team had a disappointing finish in its home finale as No. 12-ranked Arkansas Tech blanked the Hillcats 11-0 Tuesday evening in non-conference action from the Diamond Sports Complex.
BASEBALL: Houston Baptist clips ORU, 11-10
Jose Trevino launched his second home run of the series on Saturday afternoon to send the game into extra innings, but Houston Baptist plated two runs in the 10th to avoid a three-game sweep with an 11-10 win at J.L. Johnson Stadium.
SOFTBALL: Henshaw's 11th-inning HR lifts Tulsa past UTSA, 2-1
Senior Haley Henshaw's home run in the top of the 11th inning gave No. 16 Tulsa a 2-1 win at UTSA and complete the series sweep Saturday afternoon at Roadrunner Field.
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- Hrdlicka, Teter pour ‘heart’ into Zebra soccer program