Aaron Colen, Sports Editor, Aaron.Colen@chickashanews.com
The Bristow High School football team brought a physical game to Bill Hinkle Field on Friday against Tuttle, but the Tigers' running game had no problem with that.
The Tuttle offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage, allowing running back Jesse Gregory to run for four touchdowns in the Tigers' 34-7 win in the first round of the 3A state playoffs.
"They're getting mean," Gregory said of his offensive line. "They just keep driving, and they've got a lot of heart. They run hard in practice, and I don't even have to ask them. They just blow holes everywhere. It's nice."
Gregory took full advantage of the openings his line gave him, scoring on runs of 24, 20, 49 and 14 yards and averaging 9.7 yards per carry. He finished the game with 253 yards on 26 carries.
"He's just an explosive runner," Tuttle head coach Phil Koons said. "He takes a lickin' and keeps on ticking'."
When Gregory wasn't on the field, the Tuttle running game was still effective thanks to backup Tanner Brannon, who ran for 60 yards on 11 carries.
"Tanner comes in to spell him a little bit, and he had some big-time runs to move the chains, too," Koons said.
Gregory also made an impact on the defensive side of the ball, recovering a fumble in the third quarter.
There were a number of personal fouls in between the two teams, and at times the physicality went beyond the whistle, especially as the game went on and Tuttle began to pull away.
"You just tell [your players] don't be stupid," Koons said. "There were personal fouls on both sides, but you just walk away. We've played them before. I like to think I have a little better control on the sidelines, but I can't speak for [Bristow]."
After struggling defensively last week in the first half against Blanchard, Tuttle has played well on defense, said Koons.
"They're both really explosive offenses," Koons said of Blanchard and Bristow. "You look up Blanchard, and yeah, we gave up 28, but we gave up 21 in the first half then they scored once after that."
Bristow was a team that had some explosive athletes, but with a few exceptions, Tuttle was able to keep them in check.
"We were really hoping for the cliche of 'bend but don't break,' because we knew they were very explosive with their wideouts," Koons said. "They can go the distance at any time, so we were playing nickel all night hoping to just rally to the ball."
The Tigers forced three turnovers; one fumble recovery and two interceptions, and didn't turn the ball over once themselves.
Bristow did have success running the ball at times, but could not put together sustained drives. The Pirates' only score came on a 45-yard run in the third quarter.
"Except for that one run, they were gashing us for six or seven yards," Koons said. "They had a lot of rushing yards, but to only give up seven points, you can't complain about that. Then they weren't stopping us consistently."
Tuttle didn't have to throw the ball very much. Quarterback Cooper Koons went 5-for-10 with 29 yards and one touchdown, a two-yard pass to receiver Seth Odam.
Up next, Tuttle has a challenging second-round game against undefeated Kingfisher on the road.
The Yellowjackets went 10-0 in the regular season, and won their first-round game over Lone Grove 56-6.
"Playing No. 1 Kingfisher, it's going to be a good game," Gregory said. "There's a lot of tension between us. If we play like we can I think we can, I think we can beat them. Just do what we do and play Tuttle football."
Koons agreed that the game against Kingfisher, one of the best teams in the class, is a winnable game.
"We know those guys are really good, but we're excited to be in the second round," Koons said. "It's the tournament, man, one week at a time, so we're glad we're advancing, and every week is a state championship to us."