Editor's note: With sports on hold we decided to dig into our Enid News & Eagle sports vault for some of the stories over the past decade in local sports that stood out. This is one of my personal favorite memories of an absolutely insane night from Oct. 14, 2011 on the gridiron in Bixby. Nobody foresaw the record-setting night that was ahead for Enid's Seth "Popeye" Handley.
BIXBY — Seth "Popeye" Handley rushed for an all-time Enid single-game record 376 yards and had five touchdowns as the Plainsmen prevailed 80-57 in a wild affair Friday night at Bixby to raise their record to 2-5 on the season and 2-2 in District 6A-4.
Handley shattered the previous single-game mark of 273 yards set by Richard Escoe in 1964. Not even the great Lydell Carr had rushed for over 300 yards in a game, having rushed for 269 yards in 1982 for his best ever single-game output. Carr is now third on the all-time list behind Handley.
“I don’t know what to say, “ Handley said after the game in the boisterous Plainsmen locker room after the game. “This is a dream. In fact, I had a dream just last night that we would have a big win like this. I’m just really happy.
“I owe everything to my linemen. They just opened the holes. I didn’t have to juke, cut or do anything. They were great. I love those guys.”
Enid head coach Tommy Parker, who did a little celebratory dance in the postgame locker room, receiving an uproarious response from the team, couldn’t say enough about Handley’s effort.
“Just a tremendous effort,” Parker said. “He just refused to go down, wouldn’t quit. He has a huge heart. It’s one of the single greatest efforts I have ever seen.”
Parker added this game was unlike any in his coaching career.
“I have never been part of an 80-point game,’’ he said. “These kids deserve this win. They have persevered and never quit. “
The Plainsmen captured lightning in a bottle on the opening kickoff when A.J. Smith returned the opening kick 78 yards to the Bixby three-yard line and Enid needed only one play to score as Handley scored from three yards out to give the Plainsmen an early 7-0 lead.
Handley, in addition to his three-yard score, would shred the Bixby defense twice for long runs in the first half, scoring on runs of 76 yards and 80 yards, busting up the middle untouched for both touchdowns. Handley added a 55-yard kick return before the end of the half that set up an Irvin Ponce field goal that put Enid ahead with three seconds remaining, 31-28.
Enid’s other touchdown of the first half came on a 7-yard pass from Conner Daugherty to Mitchell Foote.
Enid twice built 14-point leads of 21-7 and 28-14, but could not contain the combination of Bixby quarterback T.J. Eckert and wide receiver Jasson Blair as Blair hauled in 125 yards of Eckert’s 243 yards passing in the first-half, including a 42-yard touchdown that brought Bixby to within 28-21. It came after Blair picked off Daugherty on Enid’s possession when the Plainsmen appeared to be on their way to opening up a 21-point lead following a successful run on a fake punt by Trevor Miller that set Enid up at Bixby’s 49-yard line.
Bixby tied the game 28-28 late in the first half when Eckert capped a 65-yard Bixby drive with a 17-yard touchdown run.
Enid would score 21 unanswered points to start the second half.
Enid struck first in the second half when Stephen Hinkle, who was questionable entering the game, recovered a fumble on Bixby’s first possession and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown to give Enid a 38-28 lead.
The Plainsmen defense stepped up again on Bixby’s next possession when Lawson King, who had not played since suffering a concussion against Ponca City Sept. 23, picked off Eckert’s pass at the Enid 45-yard line and returned it to Bixby’s 42-yard line, setting up Handley’s fourth touchdown of the game — an 18-yard run which made it 45-28.
Enid continued to roll when Bixby was stopped on a three-and-out and punter Mason Briggs couldn’t handle the high snap and was tackled at the Bixby three-yard line. Daugherty later found Christian Voitik for a three-yard touchdown pass. It was Voitik’s first career touchdown. The Plainsmen led 52-28 and were never seriously threatened the rest of the way.
Enid added two more touchdowns courtesy of Foote, who set the Plainsmen all-time single-season touchdown reception mark. Handley added his fifth touchdown on an 18-yard run to make it 73-49.
King put the finishing touches on Enid’s night with a 60-yard interception return to make the final score 80-57.
The 80 points scored by the Plainsmen, however, was not a single-game record. Enid defeated El-Reno 114-0 in 1914.
Handley’s record-shattering night overshadowed a great performance from Eckert who passed for 451 yards and five touchdowns as the Spartans fell to 1-6 overall and 1-3 in district play. Daugherty was 12-of-15 for 117 yards and four touchdowns.
Enid next takes on surprising Stillwater, which defeated Owasso Friday night to take over first place in the district with a 4-0 district mark. The Pioneers are 6-1 overall.
But the Plainsmen will relish Friday’s night win a little longer on a night that will likely be talked about for a long time.