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MacArthur running back Davon Finkley finds some space in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs against Carl Albert. The Highlanders won that game and two others to reach Saturday’s state title game against Skiatook.

MACARTHUR NOTEBOOK/State finals week

One amazing game

Each week my Tuesday visit with MacArthur head coach Brett Manning is conducted the same way, we start with a look back at last week's game and this week that recap took much longer than normal because what happened in that game just hasn't been seen around this town in many years.

The question remains, how can a team give up 395 yards rushing to one player and still win the game? You read right, that's how many yards McAlester quarterback Dalton Wood gained against the Mac defense in Friday's Class 5A playoff game.

"I think we won the game because we made just enough stops, plus our offense was able to respond with big plays whenever we needed it," Manning said. "And there in the second half I think the pace of our offense wore them down some because in the third quarter we started to really move the football. And we also had a good defensive stand there late in the game when we held them to a field goal. It was just a few plays that made a lot of difference in the outcome."

One of the most interesting interviews after the game was with defensive coordinator Mike Reffett. When I approached him his comment was simple, "why would you want to interview me, we just gave up a ton of yards to that kid." And when I informed him that Wood had gained 395 yards, he sure didn't want to talk. But after some persuading, he finally broke down and explained his best-laid plans.

"We knew he was tough to stop, but he was even harder to tackle than we thought," Reffett said. "He made us miss some tackles, but we did keep fighting and got a few big stops on him. In the fourth quarter we got him stopped a couple of times there on that final series when they had to kick a field goal. We expected they would run it at us three times down there, so we brought our safeties and we got him stopped. If he scores a touchdown there it's probably over."

Looking back there were several key plays, one being the fake punt by Wood with just under nine minutes left in the game. The Buffs had a rare three-and-out, thanks to a nice tackle by Devontre Young and then a nice defensive play by Walter Neil who batted down a rare McAlester pass. That left the Buffs with a fourth-and-10 at their own 31.

Wood dropped back to punt and while he's been known to fake kicks now and then, this time nobody expects it from that point on the field.

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