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Tecumseh crushes Cushing with big first half

Keven Scrutchins
Tecumseh's Daveon Mays looks for running room against the Cushing Tigers Friday night in Tecumseh.

TECUMSEH - Home sweet home.

After two weeks on the road in Ada and Tuttle, the Tecumseh Savages were looking to get their first district win of the season and found it, big time, against the visiting Cushing Tigers 49-14.

“It was good to be home,” said Tecumseh head coach Ty Bullock. “It was a tough two weeks, but our coaches put together a really good game plan for tonight.”

That plan was carried out to perfection in the first half for the Savages. It took a few possessions to get going, but the third drive was the charm.

Tecumseh, with 3:56 left in the first quarter, went on a nine-play, 89-yard march to take a 7-0 lead with :08 left. Quarterback Monte Valois found an open Jake Trice for the score.

“It was good to have Jake (Trice) back in the lineup for us,” Bullock said.

On the next possession, the Tecumseh secondary turned up the heat on Cushing’s spread offense.

“Coming in, we knew Cushing was explosive on offense so we challenged our secondary all week long in practice,” said Bullock. “They welcomed the challenge and responded.”

On the third play of the drive, Blaze Berlowitz’s nightmare began. His throw sailed over the head of his receiver and Tecumseh’s Jaxon Myers snagged the pass at the Cushing 40-yard line and returned it to the 34. Two plays later Kane Ainesworth found the end zone from 11 yards out to increase the Savage lead to 14-0 with 11:26 left in the half.

That was just a warm-up for the Tecumseh secondary.

On the Tigers' next possession, Berlowitz was picked off for the second time. This time Dylan Graham made the interception at the Cushing 48-yard line and took it back all the way for the Savage score. After the Kevin Dodd kick, Tecumseh led 21-0 with 10:51 left in the half.

Cushing, on the next drive, was held to a three-and-out by the Tecumseh defense and the Savages then went on a offensive march that looked sure to score, but on a second and goal from the Cushing 2-yard line, Ainesworth, fighting for the goal line, was stripped of the ball. The Tigers recovered on their own seven.

Tecumseh’s Anthony O’Guinn made sure that Cushing didn’t respond to the turnover and intercepted Berlowitz’s second down throw at the 20-yard and returned it to the 14-yard line. That was the third interception by Tecumseh and O’Guinn’s third pick of the season.

The Tiger defense stiffened and forced a field goal attempt by Dodd, who just missed on the 30-yard try. The score remained 21-0 with 3:31 left in the half, but the Savages were not done.

On the third play of the following Cushing drive, the defensive struck again. This time Chad Wynne stepped in front of the Berlowitz pass and raced 21 yards for the score. That was Tecumseh’s fourth interception of the night and second pick six.

“Those two plays (interception returns) were huge for us tonight,” said Bullock.

Tecumseh led 28-0 with 2:47 left in the half. Cushing then went to the run game, but were turned away on downs at the Savages' 46-yard line. The Tigers' gamble came up a half a yard short with :54 left in the half. That’s all the Savages needed. Valois hit Gavyn Rogers on a 40-yard pass to set up a first and goal at the Cushing 6-yard line. Ainesworth did the rest. He powered his way in for his second score of the night and swelled the Tecumseh lead to 35-0 at the half.

Early in the second half, Cushing tried to make things interesting. The Tigers scrapped the passing attack and loaded up and ran right at Tecumseh. It worked for two possessions. They scored on back-to-back drives that consisted 81 yards and 80 yards to cut the Tecumseh lead to 35-14. Noah Jones scored from 30 yards out on the first drive and Hayden Fry scored again from the Tecumseh 6-yard line.

The Tecumseh offense then took back control of the clash. They marched 70 yards in 11 plays and scored with :41 left in the third quarter on a pass from Valois to Rogers from 38 yards out. Valois was 4-for-4 on the drive and Tecumseh overcame two penalties on the series. The Savages led 42-14.

Tecumseh scored one more time in the final quarter, this time an 80-yard drive that ended with Ainesworth’s third rushing touchdown of the night. He scored from 5 yards out with 2:55 left in the game. The big play of the drive came on a third-and-30 at the Cushing 43-yard line. Valois hit Trice for a 38-yard pass, setting up the final scoring run.

Valois was 14-of-21 for 287 yards passing with one interception and two scores. Tecumseh added 218 yards rushing to stockpile 505 yards of total offense.

Tecumseh improved to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in district play and will face another challenge as they will travel to face the Blanchard Lions on Thursday night.