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97-yard drive shows mettle of Tigers in 50-34 victory

WEATHERFORD — With 97 yards to go in a tie title game, Tipton wasn’t about to let a 3-peat slip away.

“I told them this is what champions are made of,” Tipton quarterback Lane Chandler told his fellow Tigers in the huddle before their 7-play 97-yard go-ahead drive in Friday night’s Class C state championship game at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford. “We go down, score and win this ball game and make a statement.”

Tipton made a statement as Chandler scored the go-ahead touchdown from 14 yards out with 3:45 remaining, one of three Tigers touchdowns in the fourth quarter which sealed a 50-34 victory over previously unbeaten Southwest Covenant for the Class C title.

The win marks Tipton’s third straight Gold Ball the Tigers they’ve hoisted and the program’s seventh overall (1952, 1997, 2012, ’14, ’16, ’17, ’18) and fifth in the past seven seasons.

“This is going out with a bang,” said Tipton senior running back SemaJ McBride, who accounted for 205 yards of total offense and scored three touchdowns, including the icing on the cake from 17 yards out with 1:55 left to make it a two-score game.

“I gotta get to the end zone,” McBride recalls thinking after Tipton (12-2) secured a turnover on downs in the final minutes but still needed to run out the clock. “This game is still close.”

Chandler had snuffed out a third down screen pass earlier in the fourth quarter as his punishing hit forced the punt to lead into the go-ahead touchdown.

“That big hit changed the momentum and it felt like they (Southwest Covenant 12-1) folded after that,”Chandler said.

Tipton coach Travis White called it the play of the game from his junior safety who recently lost his grandfather.

So when the clock struck zeros after another turnover on downs with the scoreboard reading Tipton 50, Southwest Covenant 34, Chandler broke down in tears at midfield.

“I had to uplift him because it hit Lane really hard right then and there,” McBride said. “I told him, ‘We just 3-peated man.’ His grandpa was here tonight and we did this for him.”

“SemaJ has been one of my biggest supporters and he’s been there for me more than anybody,” Chandler said before putting the 3-peat into perspective. “It’s the greatest feeling in the world.”

Chandler threw the game-tying touchdown pass to senior tight end Bryce Waugh, who he hit in stride for 43 yards to tie the game at 34 with 8:20 remaining.

Tipton had scored two defensive touchdowns in each of the past two state championship games, but Friday they failed to score despite snagging four takeaways in a sloppy possession game that White called “a war of attrition” featuring seven total turnovers.

But Tipton got the stops when needed most, including a Logan Nunley interception in the end zone— one of two red zone turnovers by Southwest Covenant— a pair of turnover on downs in the final minutes and a Chandler Segovia sack that was the icing on the cake.

For the second straight week, Tipton got off to a shaky start as the Tigers committed back-to-back turnovers. The first — a fumble — did no damage as the Tigers forced a Southwest Covenant fumble with the Patriots four yards away from pay dirt.

But Tipton’s second turnover, an interception thrown by Chandler, cost the Tigers dearly as Southwest Covenant quickly turned the short field position into points courtesy of a 7-yard touchdown run by quarterback Ben Webb to give the Patriots a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

Tipton quickly answered with a 67-yard scoring drive and a 7-yard touchdown run by Jeremiah Smith, who had 144 rushing yards, following a pair of critical third down conversions, one of which went for 32 yards on a brilliantly designed screen pass to Bryce Waugh.

Southwest Covenant — which coughed up two turnovers of its own — had its own ball security issues and Tipton turned those miscues into points as well as Chandler scored on a 9-yard touchdown run on the opening play of the second quarter to give Tipton a 12-7 lead.

Tipton’s go-ahead score came off a pass from behind line of scrimmage which was ruled a fumble and recovered by the Tigers. Tipton quickly capitalized as a wide-open Waugh caught a 45-yard pass from Chandler to give the defending champs first-and-goal as the first quarter came to a close.

Tipton shot itself in the foot in the second quarter when flags downfield negated Smith’s 75-yard touchdown run before an intentional grounding penalty forced fourth-and-a-mile and a punt. The Patriots proceeded to go on a 80-yard drive, capped off by a 28-yard TD pass from Webb to Will Haas.

One play after a chop block penalty, Southwest Covenant caught Tipton off guard as Cole Shaw skirted around the outside for a 38-yard touchdown run to give the Patriots a 20-12 lead before half.

But Southwest Covenant chose to kick the ball short on the ensuing kickoff, giving Tipton excellent field position. The Tigers took advantage as SemaJ McBride caught a pass and broke free for a 45-yard touchdown to tie the title game at 20 heading into halftime. Southwest Covenant’s costly field position mistake was eerily similar to Oklahoma’s last year in the Rose Bowl when the Sooners essentially gave Georgia a free field goal before halftime before the Bulldogs stormed back and forced overtime.

McBride sported a fancy spin move a broke free down the sideline for a 47-yard touchdown run, out-sprinting every Patriot despite limping the final 10 yards. McBride’s second score of the game gave Tipton a 28-26 lead. The Tigers got a defensive stop on the ensuing drive when SW Covenant threw an interception in the back of the end zone, marking the Patriots’ second red zone turnover of the game.

Tipton got yet another stop when they gave up a third down conversion but pounced on the ball for fumble recovery to take over at 39-yard line, but it marked the second straight drive the Tigers failed to capitalize on the turnovers.

Southwest Covenant seized control with Tyler Kelly’s second score of the half, this one coming from 12 yards out to give the Patriots a temporary 34-28 lead before Tipton’s game-clinching 22-0 run.

The Lawton Constitution

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