CUSHING – From Friday night’s opening possession, Cushing’s defense showed it was every bit the rival Berryhill hoped to avoid. The Tigers stuffed 3A Berryhill’s first drive inside the redzone with a fumble recovery, and at the end of the third quarter, they had limited the Chiefs to three scores and a 6-point lead. The gap grew too large for the Tigers to overcome, though. Berryhill prevailed 26-14 to bump Cushing’s record to 0-3.
In the first half alone, the home crowd was treated to three turnovers. Champ Wright made the play on the opening fumble recovery, and Trevor Ailey came away with a fumble in the second quarter. Hunter Puls, joining the action, blocked a field goal attempt and scooped the loose ball 29 yards to Berryhill’s 48, leading to a touchdown just before halftime. In all, Cushing’s defense allowed only 182 rushing yards. Berryhill’s Cody Ross was 16 of 19 passing for 300 yards and one passing TD.
The Cushing offense changed looks a time or two. Starting quarterback Wil Moyer suffered an apparent leg injury in the fourth quarter and sophomore receiver Dane Palmer took his place in the shotgun formation.
Moyer was 19-of-42 passing for 201 yards and two TDs in three and a half quarters of play. He strung together a handful of gritty drives, including a series that started after Puls’ blocked field goal.
With the ball inside Chiefs territory, Moyer found Nathan Jones and Keaton Crooks for first-down conversions of 17 and 22 yards, including Crooks’ catch in the corner of the end zone as time expired. That drew the halftime score to 14-7 in Berryhill’s favor.
Cushing’s other score was from a five-play, 47-yard drive that began after the defense forced a turnover on downs. Again, with the ball in Beryhill’s territory, Cushing was knocking on the door. Moyer found Jones on third and 7 from the 44-yard line and Jones scooted for a 14-yard conversion. Harrison Wood then caught a 9-yard TD pass from Moyer on a bootleg and tied the game at 14 with 7:12 left in the third quarter. Berryhill (3-0) scored once in each quarter.
Palmer inherited an aggressive playbook. He completed three of four pass attempts for 27 yards. His signature play of the night came on fourth and 12 from the Tigers’ 40 yard line. On that play, the sophomore tilted his pads and let a tight spiral fly toward the near sideline, where Crooks reached out to complete a 40-yard pass and catch. It was brought back by penalties, but the Tigers got a good look at the player who could resume quarterback duties for the near future.
Next week, the Tigers travel to Madill for the District 4A-2 opener. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.