Written by: Brandon Green
It was touted as the best state championship game the state of Oklahoma had to offer. Once Saturday night rolled around in Edmond, the Class 5A title bout between the McAlester Buffaloes and the Collinsville Cardinals proved to be that – and then some.
The Buffaloes were searching for their first state championship since 1988, while the Cardinals were hoping to win their first in school history. For what was to be a historic night, both sides of the gridiron contained fans that hardly sat and continuously roared.
It only took McAlester three plays to take the opening possession into the south endzone, where the gold ball was overlooking the turf of Chad Richison Stadium just up the hill underneath the videoboard.
From then on, it was a slugfest. After having less than fifty yards passing in the last two games combined, Collinsville senior quarterback Andrew Carney would throw a pass that traveled fifty-five yards to fellow senior Oscar Hammond, whose grandfather played on McAlester’s first state championship team in 1968. The pass led to a Carney touchdown run, his first of four on the night to tie the game.
Buffalo running back Erik McCarty was sensational. With his offensive line creating gaps, McCarty would leave Cardinals in the rearview mirror. McAlester’s next two drives consisted of five plays, four of them McCarty rushes, for 111 yards on the ground and two touchdown runs by the standout junior.
However, the Cardinals would match whatever points the Buffaloes put up, and at halftime the score was even at 21.
Neither defense recorded a stop against the opposing offense in the second half; just one team ran out of time. With Collinsville scoring with the opening possession of the second half, the Cardinals led for the first time in the contest and never trailed again. A Hail Mary on the final play of the game by Buffalo senior quarterback Trent Boatright was batted down near the endzone, and the final score was Collinsville over McAlester, 42-35.
McCarty would finish with 31 carries for 268 yards – both career high numbers – with four rushing touchdowns to go with it. Furthermore, he led both teams in tackles with 13. Boatright went 12 for 17 for 126 yards through the air with his leading receiver being senior Lleyton Bass, who had 4 catches for 62 yards.
McAlester Head Coach Forrest Mazey, coaching in his first state title game, stated how proud he was of his team.
“We just didn’t make enough plays, but what a valiant effort,” said Mazey. “I just love this team and this senior class. They gave me everything. It’s tough.”
As for the message to next year’s team?
“Let the hurt burn and then don’t want it again,” said Mazey. “It’s not fun to lose. I watch them submit themselves to the program and I want so much for them to win. That’s the biggest thing to me.”
As the voice of the Buffaloes, 2021 was a season that I’ll never forget. All the highlight moments of the offense and Black Death defense created heart stopping thrills and results. And just like coach Mazey said, this one hurts but it also has me looking for the exchange rate on the precious metals as the Buffaloes and I are looking to exchange silver for gold in 2022.
“Have a Buffalo Night everyone and wake up tomorrow in search of gold.”