Sapulpa fell in the season-opening game in a difficult 35-21 loss against Sand Springs after a game that was largely in the Chieftains’ favor.
The Highway 97 rivalry game has been hyped up for weeks—a tradition stretching back 100 years, the two teams typically open the season by playing each other, bringing with it all the energy and drama you’d expect from a state championship.
On Friday, the Sandites took the lead for the first time since 1943. The streak now stands at 46-45-5.
Chieftains drew first blood with a 37-yard touchdown, but Sandites responded quickly, tying the game 7-7 with just four minutes remaining in the first quarter. The second quarter was like the first, and an amazing interception by Sapulpa senior Noah Ferguson stopped the Sandite offense in its tracks. Both teams went to the locker rooms at halftime in a 14-14 tie.
Near the end of the 3rd quarter, Sand Springs managed to pull ahead with a 5-yard run by Sand Springs Quarterback Kenneth Page.
Sapulpa Senior Marco Smith managed to answer back and get a 3-and-8 touchdown with just 35 seconds left in the 3rd quarter. Unfortunately, it would be the last time Sapulpa would score.
Four minutes into the last quarter, Sand Springs found their stride as a tired Sapulpa defense struggled to hold off a Sandite offense that was making the best of a shifting tide.
A 15-yard run to a TD gave Sand Springs the lead, and after a sack on a third down, Sapulpa had to punt, which cemented the turn of momentum for the Sandites. They later scored again, raising the score to 35-21. A short-lived effort to narrow that gap in the final seconds of the fourth came up just a few yards short.
Sapulpa travels to Tahlequah next week and will be home again on the 9th, playing Bartlesville.