CUSHING – The Redskins held a lead for most of the first half, but were unable to keep pace with Cushing, losing 54-35 Saturday afternoon.
In a game that was rescheduled due to the death of a McLoud student, emotions were high, coach Rusty Hall said.
“I think we came out and played pretty hard, especially in the first half,” Hall said. “Battling circumstances like this is never easy, and I'm proud of the way our guys played.”
Cushing scored first on a 15-yard run by Trevor Alley. After a missed extra point the Tigers led 6-0 with 6:40 remaining in the opening frame.
On McLoud's next series, quarterback Koalton Keller was intercepted by Keaton Crooks who took the ball in for a score. After a second missed extra point, Cushing held a 13-0 lead.
The McLoud offense found their rhythm on the ensuing series as Keller and the offense moved down the field with relative ease. The drive ended on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Keller to Tyler Jones. Roberto Valadez connected on the extra point and McLoud trailed 13-7 with 3:00 remaining in the first quarter.
McLoud's Blake Hall blocked a punt right before the end of the first quarter, setting the Redskins up with ideal field position. Early in the second quarter, Keller hurdled a Cushing defender and scored on a 24-yard run. Valadez put another extra point through the uprights and McLoud took their first lead of the contest.
The first half momentum was in favor of the Redskins, as linemen Brandon Vinson and Brandon Hadl had interceptions on consecutive possessions. The Redskins were able to capitalize on one of the turnovers.
Keller dropped a pass in the bucket to Mason Nikkel who outran double coverage on his way to a 22-yard touchdown. A third Valadez extra point gave McLoud a 23-13 lead with 5:23 remaining in the first half.
On Cushing's next possession, they came within one point after a 20-yard pass to Crooks and extra point by the Cushing special teams unit.
A bad snap and one-yard punt by McLoud gave Cushing the ball with less than two minutes on the clock, which ultimately set up Crooks' second offensive touchdown and third of the first half.
The play gave the Tigers the momentum and a 27-21 lead at halftime.
“Instead of having the lead at halftime and getting the ball to start the second half, all of you sudden we're down and had to come out of the locker room and score,” Hall said. “That was a huge momentum swing for Cushing.”
Cushing scored first in the second half. After a converted extra point, the Tigers led 34-21.
Nikkel took the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown and gave the Redskins hope once again.
The teams traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Keller found Nikkel for their second hookup of the afternoon.
Cushing went on to score the last two touchdowns of the game.
Keller led the Redskins with 175 yards passing. He threw two passing touchdowns and one interception. The senior also added 65 yards and one touchdown on the ground. The performance moves Keller to fifth in the area in passing (658) and tied for second in touchdowns (10).
Nikkel caught three passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns.
Jones caught three passes for 32 yards and a touchdown. He also carried the ball twice for seven yards.
Damien Dye rushed for 86 yards on 21 carries and hauled in three passes for 29 yards. Dye currently sits fourth in the area in rushing yards (546).
McLoud (2-4, 1-2) returns to action Oct. 12 with a road game against undefeated Tuttle (6-0, 3-0). Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.