MIDWEST CITY —
Carl Albert quarterback Steven Thompson proved to be the ‘difference maker’ in Friday’s Class 5A State Quarterfinals.
Thompson rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns as Carl Albert eliminated the No. 5 Claremore Zebras, 41-16.
“We knew coming in we had to stop No. 3 (Thompson). He’s their offensive firepower and can make big plays as we saw on that opening drive,” Claremore head coach Rob Gilbreath said.
Thompson rushed for 196 of his 220 yards in the first half as Carl Albert built a 21-10 halftime lead.
The Carl Albert signal-caller scored all three of the Titans’ touchdowns in the first half on runs of 1, 80 and 9 yards.
“Offensively, Carl Albert’s line did a good job blocking for Thompson, and we missed too many tackles,” Gilbreath said. “Give credit to Carl Albert, though. They are a very good football team and Coach (Gary) Rose’s system is hard to beat in the playoffs.”
After Thompson’s 1-yard touchdown run put Carl Albert ahead 7-0, the Zebras answered with a 34-yard field goal by Jared Vincent at the 7:31 mark of the second quarter.
Vincent’s scoring play was set up by Dustin Basks’s fumble recovery at the Carl Albert 15-yard line.
On the ensuing offensive series for the Titans, Thompson scampered through the Claremore defense for an 80-yard touchdown that extended Carl Albert’s lead to 14-3 with 5:51 left in the first half.
Thompson’s 9-yard touchdown run helped Carl Albert build a 21-3 lead with 25 seconds remaining.
Claremore, however, regained its composure to score right before halftime as quarterback Matt Whatley connected with Basks for a 38-yard touchdown pass that cut the defict to 21-10.
“The touchdown at the end of the first half was pretty critical if we were to have a chance at beating Carl Albert,” Gilbreath said.
Claremore’s defense found success in the third quarter, holding Carl Albert scoreless.
Offensively, though, Claremore’s passing game never could click against Carl Albert’s 4-4 defensive front.
Whatley, who completed 5-of-16 passes for 44 yards, tossed three of his four interceptions in the second half.
Thompson’s last touchdown — a 4-yard run — put Carl Albert ahead 28-10.
Then, a pair of interception returns by Bryan Williams (24 yards) and Dillon Lohr (76 yards) made it 41-10 with 7:33 remaining in the game.
Claremore got its final touchdown of the season on a 5-yard run by senior tailback Jordan Cunningham.
Carl Albert outgained Claremore, 419-277 in total offense.
Defensively, Claremore’s Caleb Webster recorded his sixth interception of the season in the second quarter.
“These guys don’t have anything to hang their heads on,” Gilbreath said. “We got a lot accomplished this season and brought winning football back to Claremore.
“It’s been a long time since Claremore was 10-2 and playing in the state quarterfinals. I’m proud of everyone on this team and the coaching staff.”