SEMINOLE — Tecumseh took advantage of four Seminole fumbles, had sustained drives, and spoiled the Chieftains' home opener Friday with a 35-21 road win.
The Savages won the turnover battle by recovering four Seminole fumbles while giving up just one.
“Those turnovers were huge, huge parts of us winning this game,” Tecumseh head coach Ty Bullock said.
The score was tied at 21 after three quarters, but Tecumseh (1-1) seized control in the fourth, scoring two touchdowns. The first of those came at the end of an 11-play, 71-yard drive that consumed nearly six minutes of the game clock. Senior running back Jaxon Day capped it with a 12-yard TD that put the visitors up 28-21.
On their next possession, the Savages only had to go 26 yards after a Chieftain fumble by Jason Batise. Jaylen Walker paid it off with a 3-yard TD run with 3:04 remaining that ended the scoring.
Walker finished with 160 yards on 31 carries and two touchdowns to lead all rushers.
“Jaylen wanted some redemption from last week. He rushed for about 200 yards last week (217) but he had some fumbles,” Bullock said.
Seminole (1-1) ran only seven offensive plays in the final quarter, two of which ended in fumbles. Both were recovered by Tecumseh's Clayton Rackley.
It was the second straight Class 4A-2 opponent for the Chieftains, who were coming off a dominating 40-8 victory at Harrah last week. The Savages were also on the road to start the season, falling at neighboring Bethel, 29-27.
“Everybody told them 'you lost last week, there's no way you're gonna win this week,'” Bullock said. “On that practice field Monday, they were ready to go. They were ready to put last week behind them. Just seeing the smiles on their faces tonight is what makes being a football coach one of the greatest professions in the world.”
The Chieftains had a strong start, taking the opening kickoff and driving 65 yards in 12 plays. Cameron Gunville finished the drive with a one-yard TD plunge.
Tecumseh responded with a 14-play possession that covered 81 yards in about eight minutes. Kane Ainesworth completed it with a determined 9-yard run through defenders across the goal line.
Seminole's turnover bug started biting on the next play. Tecumseh executed a deep-onside kickoff that bounced in an unoccupied part of the field. The Chieftains were unable to secure it and it wound up in the arms of Tecumseh's Tyler Davis.
The Chieftains regained the lead midway through the second quarter with their biggest play of the night. Quarterback Brendan Rodriquez completed a pass to Gunville that went for a 44-yard TD.
Tecumseh tied it up again seven plays later as Will Hilton connected with Dylan Graham for a 20-yard TD strike. The Savages took their first lead at 21-14 after Seminole's second fumble. Walker capped another seven-play possession with a 3-yard TD with 1:52 left before halftime.
Tecumseh rushed 50 times for 243 yards. Hilton was 6-of-8 passing for 73 yards and no interceptions.
The Savages held Seminole to 127 rushing yards on 32 attempts. Gunville led the Chieftains with 92 yards on 21 carries. Rodriquez went 6-for-11 passing for 89 yards.
Seminole will complete the non-district part of its schedule next Friday by visiting Class A Wewoka. Tecumseh will play its home opener Friday, welcoming Bridge Creek, its third straight Class 3A opponent to start the season.