By Eric Shannon
MULDROW – Jake Gandara’s 184 yards rushing on 19 touches and four touchdowns awakened a sluggish offensive start and the Fort Gibson Tigers eventually churned out 431 yards rushing en-route to a 56-28 win over the Muldrow Bulldogs at Marty Rogers Field Friday night.
It marks the Tigers’ first 7-0 start since the 1999 state finalist team.
Quarterback J.R. Singleton added another 150 yards rushing and 102 through the air as the Tigers racked up over 500 yards total offense.
The win sets up a winner take all district match-up with perfect Cascia Hall on Thursday.
“Our offensive line did a phenomenal job tonight. They blew open some huge holes and really controlled the game for us,” said Tigers coach James Singleton. “The hogs got it done, plain and simple.”
As a steady rain all day produced a slow, muddy field, a fan would expect a ground game affair, but both teams went to the air to open the night’s play, producing their first two scores.
J.R. Singleton struck first on a nine-play 64-yard drive when he found Ned Adair in the back of the end zone with 9:15 left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs didn’t back down though. With 5:45 to go in the opening quarter, Dawson Floyd found Thad Jackson for a 46-yard gain to the Tigers’ 2-yard line. Two plays later Dominic Blue tied the game at 7.
Two possessions later Gandara added his first touchdown of the night with a one-yard plunge and a 14-7 lead to open up the second quarter.
Forcing a three-and-out by the Tigers defense Singleton then struck with his legs. Looking for a passing lane on a second-and-13 at the Bulldog 43, Singleton pulled the ball down and found a clear lane for 43 yards and his first rushing touchdown of the night.
Blue and company kept the pressure on the Tigers with a two-yard run of his own and a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown, but Gandara and Singleton wouldn’t back down.
Gandara countered with a 67-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and Singleton added a 40-yarder with :40 left before half for a 35-21 lead.
“It takes a few carries to get Jake warmed up, but when he does he is very difficult to stop,” said James Singleton.
The Bulldogs looked to get back in the game, driving 60 yards for what looked like a one- possession game score until Zach Peterson stepped up his defense for the second straight week. Peterson, whose pick late in the second half helped turn the tide in Fort Gibson’s win at Poteau, picked off Floyd at the 1 with four seconds left until halftime.
“Zach has really been stepping up for us over the past few weeks,” said coach Singleton. “We had to make some adjustments on our defense. We were playing out of position on some of their alignments but we got adjusted in the second half.”
The play that might have broke the Bulldogs’ back came two plays after a turnover on downs at the Tigers 14. Gandara took an option pitch from Singleton on the right sideline, spun out of two tackles, then raced 73 yards for his third touchdown of the night, extending the Tigers lead to 42-21 with 6:49 to go in the third quarter.
Seth Taylor added the final knockout blow with 4:53 left in the third quarter with his 10-yard touchdown run.
FORT GIBSON 56, MULDROW 28
FGHS 7 28 21 0—56
Muldrow 7 14 0 7—28
FGHS – Ned Adair 18 pass from J.R. Singleton (Daniel Meilnik kick), 9:15
MHS – Dominic Blue 2 run (Lucas Sheanka kick), 5:24
FGHS – Jake Gandara 1 run (Meilnik kick), 11:55
FGHS – Singleton 43 run (Meilnik kick),8:18
MHS – Blue 2 run (Sheanka kick), 4:02
FGHS – Gandara 67 kickoff return (Melnik kick), 3:49
MHS – Blue 75 punt return (Sheanka kick), 1:31
FGHS – Singleton 40 run (Meilnik kick), :40
FGHS – Gandara 73 run (Meilnik kick), 6:49
FGHS – Seth Taylor 10 run (Meilnik kick), 4:53
FGHS – Gandara 4 run (Meilnik kick), :38
MHS – Colton Keith 20 pass from Dawson Floyd (Sheanka kick), 7:12
First Downs 21 15
Rushes-Yards 44-435 22-24
Passing A-C-I 9-4-0 30-18-2
Passing Yards 102 237
Punts-Avg. 3-35 4-32
Penalties Yards 8-55 4-20
Fumbles- Lost 0-0 3-1
Rushing: FGHS, Gandara 19-184, Singleton 10-150, Taylor 5-52,
Passing: FGHS, Singleton 8-4-0-102
Receiving: FGHS, Adair 2-51, Jordan London 2-51