By Bruce Campbell Staff Writer



Mooreland showed why defense wins championships in a 28-7 win over Texhoma for the District A-1 title Friday.

The Bearcats forced six turnovers -- three interceptions and three fumbles -- in outscoring the Red Devils 21-0 in the second half to boost their record to 8-1.

"It was crazy,'' said Bearcat coach Kurt Myers. "It was one of those deals of our guys being in the right spots and doing the right things."'

The Bearcats created all three fumbles with their physical play, Myers said.

"We just dislodged the ball from them,'' Myers said. "Mike Elsey, on one play, just blasted this kid and ripped the ball out."'

Eli Nielsen and Jared Price had key fumble recoveries. Lucas Russell, Brett Thomas and Josh Smith had interceptions.

"They had a good game plan, but our kids played well. When they are in the right spots, good things are going to happen. Players make plays."'

Defensive ends Juan Fraire and Peyton McIntosh had their best games of the season, Myers said.

"It was unreal,'' he said. "They couldn't get outside on us because of our defensive ends."'

The Bearcats have allowed only 55 points this season. Only two teams -- Okeene and Beaver -- have scored two touchdowns on them.

Mooreland had 12 players with 30 tackles or more. Free safety Fletcher Jacquez has been a standout. The 290-pound Elsie has opened the way for linebackers Price and Nielsen.

"Mike doesn't get a lot of tackles, but he gets a lot of double and triple teams,'' Myers said.

Texhoma had a 62-yard touchdown run on its second possession. The Red Devils were held at the Mooreland 12 on their first possession.

Mooreland had to adjust to a no-huddle offense it hadn't seen before from Texhoma. Once the Bearcats adjusted, they were able to slow down the big play-minded Red Devils,

Jacquez scored twice on runs of 1 and 38 yards. Brett Thomas had a quarterback sneak for a score and threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Braydin Farrow, who made a spectacular diving catch.

Farrow had four catches for 68 yards. Fullback Brandon Hensley had some key third down receptions. Smith rushed for 120 yards. Jacquez added another 98.

"Our tackling got better in the second half and we played better fundamental football,'' Myers said. "I expected a tough battle. I thought it might be closer than it was ... but we have a lot of confidence in our defense and we always feel we can score on offense."'

Mooreland had allowed 252 points in going 3-7. The Bearcats allowed 40 or more points in three games.

Myers attributed the improvement to "outstanding off-season workouts'' and being in the 4-3 alignment for a second year. Mooreland had run a 4-4 alignment before Myers' arrival.

The Bearcats also had adjusted from the Wing T to Myers' I-formation offense.

"These kids believed they could win ballgames and do some things,'' Myers said. "Our assistant coaches (John Hart, Troy Anderson, Lonnie Lawson, Darron McCord and Milt Chapple) did a great job. The district championship feels pretty good ... I can tell you that."'

The Bearcats will be hosting the fourth place finisher in District A-2 (Cordell or Apache) in the first round of the playoffs. Mooreland's seven-game winning streak started with a 25-0 win over Cordell Sept. 16.

Mooreland will be going out of district Friday when it hosts winless Santa Fe South (0-7), a charter school out of Oklahoma City.

"We're glad to have the district championship clinched,'' Myers said. "That's a weight off our shoulders, but we don't want to lose any momentum. If we're fortunate enough to get a good lead, we'll rest our starters, but we have to take care of business first.



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