Highlanders make statement
Rolling over and accepting anticipated defeat is not the MacArthur way.
Although the Highlanders couldn't change their playoff fate, they played their best game of the season in a physically dominating 36-7 win over No. 2 Ardmore at Cameron Stadium on Friday night.
Despite the upset, Mac (6-4, 5-2 District 5A-1) finished the season at fourth in district thanks to Del City's 54-13 drubbing of Southeast. The loss had no impact on the Tigers' playoff seeding, for they locked up the division crown last week with a 28-7 win over Duncan.
Mac coach Brett Manning said his team has been on the cusp of such a performance for the past few weeks, and everything finally came together.
"I thought we've been really close for a while," Manning said. "We haven't been able to put all three phases (of the game) together offense, defense and special teams and tonight we did. I think it proves that we had this in us and that we can still be a really good team and maybe can do something in the playoffs."
After scoring only one touchdown the past two games and being held to 55 yards last week against Altus, running back Nick Mahan was back to his old ways.
The senior rushed for a career-high 247 yards and four touchdowns on 39 carries, averaging 6.33 yards per carry. Six of runs went for 10-plus yards, while 18 went for 5 yards or more.
His touchdown runs came on bursts of 5, 18, 10 and 2 yards.
"The offensive line played great," Mahan said. "The game plan coming in was great, holes were open all night and the coaches called a great game. Last week got us ready for this week, and we came out and played great."
Mahan said the defense's ability to get the offense back on the field made the difference against Ardmore (8-2, 6-1). Against Altus, the Highlanders managed only 48 plays. They had 44 in the first half alone against the Tigers.
"Altus kept the ball too long, so the offense wasn't on the field enough," Mahan said. "I feel like if we got more chances in that game, it would've been way different."
JR Winningham accounted for the team's other score on a 3-yard run to extend the lead to 36-7 with 11:48 left in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers' normally potent offense looked out of synch for most of the night, failing to generate its running game against Mac's stout defensive front.
Ardmore, which came into the contest averaging 34.22 points per game, was held to 79 yards in the first half and 183 total.
The Tigers' seven points were their fewest the team has scored in a game since a 9-7 loss to Durant in 2013, and the 36 points given up were their most surrendered this season. The Highlanders also held the Tigers to just five first downs and one of eight on third downs.
Ardmore's lone score came on a Chantz Scurry 1-yard run early in the first quarter shortly after a 47-yard run from quarterback Tero Roberts put the Tigers at the Mac 3-yard line.
Roberts went down with a game-ending injury on that play, and it seemingly served as a crushing blow for the Tigers. That run accounted for more than a quarter Ardmore's offensive production.