By Jonathan Deal
Looking at the stat sheet, it’s hard to tell who won between Ardmore (6-2, 4-2) and Madison County (6-2, 5-1) Friday night. The scoreboard at Cooper Field told another story, however, and the Tigers from Gurley left with a 42-6 victory.
The ironic twist — Ardmore dominated almost every statistic.
The Tigers outgained MCHS in rushing yards, total yards, total plays, time of possession and had nearly twice as many first downs.
Madison County did beat Ardmore in one key category — turnovers. Outside a fumble on the final play of the game, Ardmore had just two. Unfortunately, they came at the worst possible time and inside the red zone.
“Too many turnovers, too many stupid penalties, that’s what cost us the game,” said Ardmore head coach Clint Legg. “(We) just gave it to them. That’s the bottom line.”
Ardmore marched down the field on its first possession and scored on a Ricky Lowery 5-yard run. The point-after attempt failed.
Lowery carried the load on the 14-play drive that featured all running plays, 10 by the Lowery.
Seizing the game’s momentum from the opening kickoff, the Tigers defense brought the home crowd to its feet by forcing a three-and-out on Madison County’s opening possession.
With the lead and momentum on its side, Ardmore looked to be on the way to another score when a fumble at the AHS 20 changed everything.
Madison County answered five plays later when quarterback Griffin Widner tossed a 6-yard pass to Brandon Gurley to give MCHS the lead following a successful PAT.
Ardmore’s next two drives ended on failed fourth-down conversions in Madison County territory.
After Ardmore limited the visitors to 13 yards in the first quarter, MCHS took advantage of its only two second-quarter possessions with touchdowns drives.
Tyler Gurley was the catalyst. After entering the game in the second quarter, Gurley finished with six carries for 72 yards and a touchdown while completing 8 of 10 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns.
“We knew he (Gurley) was going to come out there and play, that’s who we prepared for,” said Legg. “That’s an excuse if I tell you he wasn’t big, we beat ourself tonight.
Gurley connected with Jacob Salisbury for a 50-yard touchdown on the first play of the third quarter to take a 28-6 lead.
Ardmore responded with a 14-play drive, taking more than seven minutes off the clock, but Madison County’s Marquise Irvin ended the threat by picking off a Garrett Miller pass in the end zone.
Irvin returned the interception to the Ardmore 8, setting up another Brandon Gurley touchdown run.
Miller completed 5 of 7 passes for 68 yards, all in the second half. Lowery led both teams in rushing with 27 carries for 97 yards and a score.
Ardmore ran for 282 yards as a team, including 70 yards from Chris Welling and 40 from Braydon Edwards.
The loss sets Ardmore for a game against D.A.R. (5-3, 4-2) that will determine third and fourth place in 4A Region 7.
“My gameplan was to run at them and that’s what we did,” said Legg. “It hurts, knowing that we were right in it in the first half, and blew in the second half. We’re still in the playoffs, that was our goal”