MIAMI — Regardless of whether it was on the ground or through the air, Sequoyah couldn’t stop Gavin Payton.
The senior quarterback got whatever he wanted and more, accounting for 227 yards total and three touchdowns in leading Miami to a 38-7 victory over the Eagles at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M’s Red Robertson Field on Friday night.
Payton rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries while throwing for 115 more and another score on 11-of-21 passing.
Sequoyah coach Rob Gilbreath said they knew what was coming but simply couldn’t stop it.
“They were running a quick-side counter, which they were faking the back across,” Gilbreath said. “We knew they were doing it though they didn’t show much of it in their scrimmage. We were prepared for it, but we’re so young. We had players there to make the play, but they couldn’t make it.
“We were a little outmatched, and he’s got a year of experience, he’s fast and he’s a good player.”
Sequoyah limited the Wardogs in the first quarter, but Payton’s night didn’t truly get started until the second.
He ran the ball six times on Miami’s first possession of the quarter, highlighted by a 30-yard scamper down the west sideline.
Payton capped the drive with a 1-yard keeper to put the Wardogs up 7-0 with 8:24 remaining in the half.
An Eagles fumble gave Miami a short field on its next possession, and Payton made them pay for the turnover, using his 6-foot-1, 170-pound frame to break tackles on a 10-yard touchdown run.
His final score wouldn’t come until five minutes left in the third quarter when he found Damion Burris for a 35-yard touchdown, making it 31-0 in favor of Miami.
Leading the charge behind Payton was running back Gabe McCleary, who had 104 yards rushing and a touchdown while averaging 6.5 yards per carry.
Although Payton and McCleary certainly had impressive games, perhaps the main instrument of Sequoyah’s demise was itself.
The Eagles lost four fumbles — two of which came in enemy territory — resulting in 14 points for the Wardogs.
Sequoyah also turned the ball over twice inside the Miami 40-yard line in the second quarter when trailing by only two scores.
It surrendered three fourth-down conversions as well.
All those miscues aren’t even including the block punt late in the third quarter by Miami’s Tanner Maples, who went on to capitalize on the momentous play with a 3-yard touchdown run, giving the Wardogs a 38-0 lead.
“We gave them at least 21 points; probably even 28,” Gilbreath said. “But I told my kids that’s just part of being young and making mistakes. We can’t do that, but I also told them I couldn’t be prouder of them. There was no finger pointing, there was no moaning and groaning and there was no quit in them. A lot of what we did was on us. All that stuff is fixable, and we gotta get it fixed.”
Of course, the Eagles’ fumbles didn’t come about because of only slippery fingers.
Sequoyah was significantly outsized, with all its main runners being listed under 5-10 and 200 pounds.
That doesn’t compare well to the Miami defensive line, which doesn’t feature a player under 6-0, 225 pounds.
Eagles quarterback Brett Burks was sacked at least six times throughout the contest.
“They caused a lot of those fumbles by blowing our guys up,” Gilbreath said. “We got poor sophomore Austin Blackwell (on the offensive line) and he doesn’t weight 150 pounds soaking wet. Something’s gotta give there. Some of those fumbles weren’t just because we were dropping the ball, it was because they were blowing our linemen back.
“I don’t know if we have to put a brick in their pocket or what we have to do, but we’re a little outmatched with a 275 going against a 175.”
The Eagles were held to 86 yards rushing on 41 touches, which is about 2.1 yards per carry.
Donovan Wilson led the Sequoyah rushing attack with 41 yards on 11 carries. Hunter Bolay, who finished with 13 yards, scored the Eagles’ lone touchdown on a 4-yard run with 8:45 remaining in the fourth quarter.
In all, Miami outgained Sequoyah, 373-140.
Sequoyah (0-1) hosts Class 4A No. 9 Hilldale in its home opener next week on Friday, Sept. 6, looking to end its 12-game losing streak.
“We’ll just come out and prepare again, keep fighting and hopefully some of these puppies will grow up,” Gilbreath said. “We’ll be better for it in the long run. Growing pains is what it is.
“They’ll start growing up and getting more confident, and this is good for them.”