Elijah Garcia and the Mustang Broncos knew a chess match was in store Friday night and that trust would be a deciding factor.
“It was all about the game plan,” he said. “We just had to buy in and everything would be handled straight… Fully trusting in each other is what got it going tonight.”
Mustang’s defense was electric in a 27-17 win over the Owasso Rams at Bronco Stadium, allowing just 282 total yards while forcing two turnovers.
Garcia, who wreaked havoc in Owasso’s backfield most of the game, finished with two sacks and one of the team’s two interceptions. He pulled down a tipped ball in the third quarter which eventually set up a 27-yard field goal by kicker Aiden Jordan (So.).
“I was just reading my keys and was able to use my hands to get around defenders,” Garcia said. His two sacks came on back-to-back plays just after halftime. He even returned a fumble for a touchdown, however, it was called back due to an inadvertent whistle.
The Broncos (4-1, 2-0) held Owasso (1-4, 0-2) to 141 yards through the air, eventually forcing quarterback Mason Willingham (Sr.) out of the game. Willingham threw both picks, including one to cornerback Jacobe Johnson (Sr.) on the drive prior to Garcia’s interception.
Johnson, an Oklahoma-commit, said the team’s defensive performance Friday night, and in its previous four games, has been a culmination of potential and effort.
“This has been the best the defense has played over the last three years,” he said. “We obviously have a lot of dogs on the offensive side of the ball, but we have a lot of dogs on the defensive side, too.”
Mustang linebacker Caston Meadows (44) and defensive tackle Kaden Jones (25) brings down Owasso running back Aric Strain during the team’s 27-17 win on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, at Bronco Stadium. (Photo by Ron Lane / Lane Images)
Mustang kept Owasso from reaching the endzone until late in the first half.
The Broncos forced two field goal attempts and a turnover on downs before a 54-yard touchdown run by Willingham. Owasso took a 3-0 lead with a 20-yard field goal by kicker Chase Everett on the opening drive of the game.
A 52-yard touchdown bomb from quarterback Tristen Russell (Sr.) to Johnson gave Mustang a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter.
Keegan Bass (Sr.) made it 14-10, answering Willingham’s score with an 18-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the half.
Bass saw multiple double teams on the outside, along with Johnson, but the Air Force-commit still totaled 152 yards. He rushed six times for 34 yards and led all receivers with 118 yards, including a touchdown reception that completely caught Owasso off guard.
Trajan Williamson (So.) entered the game after Russell limped to the sideline with an apparent injury to start the fourth quarter. Williamson connected on a swing pass to Johnson, who proceeded to launch a 48-yard strike to a wide-open Bass, giving the Broncos a 24-10 advantage.
The Broncos admitted after the game to Russell faking the injury. It set the play up to near perfection.
“It was crazy,” Bass said. “At first it was press-man, so I knew it was good. They triggered on that 5-star back (Johnson), so it opened it up great. It was a great pass, great job by the offensive line, and great job by Tristen selling it.”
Russell had to cover his head with a towel on the way to the sideline to keep from giving it away.
“I was smiling the whole time,” he said. “I thought it was fun. It was a spot-on throw by Jacobe.”
Jordan, who went 2-for-2, helped seal the victory with an 18-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter. The kick gave the Broncos a 27-10 lead before a late touchdown pass from Owasso backup quarterback Tyler Caviness (Jr.) to Tariek Johnson (So.).
Mustang’s offense totaled 352 yards, including 120 on the ground.
Russell and Bass handled most of the workload, combining for 97 yards on 22 carries. Russell said the flow of the game offensively had everything to do with what the Rams showed on defense.
“They played six in the box early so it was just run the ball and pound it,” he said. “Then they went two down with a backer walking down like a 3-3 stack. Every receiver was double teamed so we just took what they gave us.”
Receiver LeBryan Hayes (Jr.) added six receptions for 60 yards while senior running backs Jay Bedford, Pryce Burgess, and Antone Prince, combined for 21 yards.
The win marked the second straight for coach Lee Blankenship over his cousin, Bill Blankenship. Mustang defeated the Rams 47-41 last season.
The Broncos moved to 2-0 in Class 6A-I District 2 and look to stay hot against the Edmond Santa Fe Wolves (0-5, 0-2) next week in Edmond.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday.