GROVE- Tied 6-6 late in the third quarter of their District 5A-4 clash with the Tulsa Central Braves, the Grove Ridgerunners needed a spark.
Brody Scott provided it.
Scott intercepted a Milton Harper pass at midfield and raced down the right sideline before diving into the endzone with the score that turned the tide in Grove's 27-6 win.
Sophomore running back Benny Steffenson finished what Scott started. Taking over for injured starter Buck Maples early in the fourth quarter, Steffenson ran the ball 15 times for 75 yards in the second half as the Ridgerunners scored twice in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
After Scott's touchdown the Braves moved the ball all the way down the Grove 13, but two runs lost 22 yards and a block in the back on the Braves led to the Ridgerunners taking over on their own 32 with 11:46 left in the game.
From there Steffenson took over, running on nine of the 13 plays of the drive before scoring from 12 yards out with 5:27 left in the game.
After a short punt on the next Central possession, the Ridgerunners took over on the Brave 34. Steffenson ran the ball four straight times, including a 29-yard run in which he dragged Central defenders for the final 10 yards before being stopped just short of the goal line.
Steffenson scored on the next play to make it 27-6 with just under two minutes to play.
The second half was in stark contrast to a first half in which both teams played sluggishly.
Central quarterback Milton Harper, who finished the game with 273 yards passing, repeatedly found D'Angelo Brewer (8 catches for 124 yards) and Kalep Daniels (6 catches for 119 yards) open in the secondary for big gains.
But time and again the GHS defense rose up and made plays when they needed to. Scott made the first stop on the game's opening possession, in which Central (3-2, 1-1 in District 5A-4), moved the ball inside the Grove 30.
Facing a 4th-and-18 from the 31, Harper threw a deep pass down the right sideline only to have Scott make a leaping grab at the four-yard-line.
After a short punt set the Braves up on the GHS 29, the Ridgerunner defense came through again when Trent Phillips forced Tyron Garth to fumble, which was recovered by Josh Friend.
In all Central would turn the ball over three times in the first half and four times in the game.
The Ridgerunner offense, after struggling to get anywhere in the first quarter, suddenly found its traction early in the second. Maples reeled off his longest run of the night of 35 yards, followed by quarterback Adam Steffenson's run of 21 yards.
Maples then reeled off a 19-yarder to the one and scored one play later to give Grove a 6-0 lead.
But the Braves would strike back just before halftime. Taking over on their own 23, Harper had passes of 25 and 21 yards to highlight the drive. Facing a 4th-and-12 on the 16, Harper found Gerald Hardridge in the end zone to tie the game.
It appeared the deadlock would never be broken, but Scott's big play, followed by Steffenson's power running broke the Braves' back.
Benny Steffenson and Maples each finished with 75 yards on the ground. The Grove defense completely shut down Central's running game. Garth, who had 174 yards and three touchdowns last week against Tahlequah, was held to 16 yards on 13 carries. In all Central gained just six yards on the ground. Harper finished with 273 yards passing.
Having passed one tough test, the Ridgerunners (4-1, 2-0) will face another one next Friday when they travel to Coweta to take on the Tigers.
Coweta, 3-2 on the season and 1-1 in district play, lost on a last-second field goal to the East Central Cardinals on Friday.
Grove 27, Tulsa Central 6
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
GHS 0 6 7 14 27
TC 0 6 0 0 6
1st downs 14 12
Rushes-Yds 25-6 38-207
Passing Yds 273 45
C-A-I 19-31-2 7-14-1
Punt.-Avg. 3-27.0 5-27.2
Fumb.-lost 2-2 2-0
Pen-Yds. 10-104 7-57
TC: Tyron Garth-13-16, Milton Harper 8-(-7), D'Angelo Brewer 3-(-2), 6 1(-1).
GHS: Buck Maples 15-75, Benny Steffenson 14-75, Bobby Harris 2-37, Adam Steffenson 6-16, Trent Phillips 1-4.
TC: Milton Harper 19-31-273yds-2 int, 1 td.
GHS: Adam Steffenson 6-11-39yds-1int. Zach Bergman 1-2-6yds. Jerrod Leach 0-1-0.
TC: D'Angelo Brewer 8-124. Kalep Daniels 6-119. Gerald Hardridge 1-16. Tyron Garth 3-3. [number 34] 1-11.
GHS: Cameron Smith 1-10. Bryce Armstrong 1-9. Jerrod Leach 1-6. Chase Manicom 1-6. Tyler Leffel 1-7. Brody Scott 1-5.
9:20 GHS: Maples 1-yd run (kick missed). GHS 6-0
1:37 TC: Hardridge 16-yd pass from Harper. 6-6.
1:14 GHS: Scott 45-yd int. return (Krause kick). GHS 13-6
5:27 GHS: B. Steffenson 12-yd run (Krause kick). GHS 20-6
1:57 GHS: B. Steffenson 1-yd run (Krause kick). GHS 27-6