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Midwest City Carl Albert punches ticket to Oklahoma 5A football title game with resounding win

After 51-28 triumph against Bishop McGuinness, Titans in position to repeat state championship
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NOBLE, OKLAHOMA - Beating the same team multiple times in a season is never easy.

Even for a team as dominant as Midwest City Carl Albert, that can be a tricky situation.

Despite the Titans rolling over Bishop McGuinness 49-7 earlier in the year, they knew they were going to get a different squad when the two faced off in the 5A semifinals Friday. And that is what happened as the Irish put up a much tougher fight than the previous encounter.

Yet, it still wasn’t enough to slow down the defending 5A champions for long as they earned a 51-28 victory at Noble Stadium.

“We played these guys earlier in the year and we knew what they had,” Carl Albert’s Easton Harless said. “They were missing some guys, so we knew we were going to have to bring some more juice and I feel like that's exactly what we did.”

The game could not have started better for the Irish. Using a punishing run attack, they went on a drive that lasted more than eight minutes in which they converted two fourth downs in the process.

Tom Watts put Bishop McGuinness on the board with a 1-yard plunge into the end zone to give them a 7-0 advantage.

Carl Albert responded with a five-minute drive, but could only come away with a 33-yard field goal in the second quarter.

That was when things started to turn around for Bishop McGuinness. After being stopped on their ensuing possession, the Irish were forced to punt.

However, the ball flew over the punter's head and he was tackled inside their own 20-yard line after pouncing on it.

It looked like Carl Albert might have to settle for another field goal, but coach Mike Dunn decided to go for it on fourth down. Out of the wildcat formation, University of Oklahoma commit Xavier Robinson took the snap and then threw a short touchdown pass to Marcus James with 6:22 on the clock in the first half.

The Irish troubles continued when quarterback Damon Cochran’s attempted lateral pass was recovered by the Titans. This time, it was CA quarterback Kevin Sperry who made them pay with a 4-yard touchdown run and a 17-7 advantage.

Midwest City Carl Albert tailback Xavier Robinson (with ball) makes a carry during the Titans' Class 5A semifinal win against Bishop McGuinness on Nov. 24, 2023.

Midwest City Carl Albert tailback Xavier Robinson (with ball) makes a carry during the Titans' Class 5A semifinal win against Bishop McGuinness on Nov. 24, 2023.

On Bishop McGuinness's very next possession, the Irish found themselves in a fourth-and-short situation at their own 27-yard line. Seemingly feeling they needed to make something happen to keep the game from getting away from them, coach Bryan Pierce kept the offense on the field to go for it.

However, Cochran was stuffed running up the middle and it was a turnover on downs with 1:58 left in the first half.

The turnover led to a Sperry touchdown pass to Robinson that gave Carl Albert a 24-7 halftime advantage.

“I was proud of our guys though for responding,” Dunn said. “That's what I told them in the huddle was the thing that I'm most proud of is that they ran the ball and they went and took off all that time.

"And then we go out and we get a field goal and then we get a stop, get a score, get a stop, get a score, and then end up getting one more there. Just proud of our guys. Big time response.”

How Midwest City Carl Albert kept its undefeated season going in dramatic comeback 

The Titans left no doubt the contest was over when they started the third quarter. Sperry connected with Trynae Washington on a 43-yard touchdown pass.

Sperry and Washington, who are both committed to Oklahoma, hooked up once more on an 86-yard touchdown with 1:27 left in the third. That put Carl Albert up 44-7.

“The key was just throwing the ball. That's it,” Washington said. “We was running the ball a lot. We just got the ball in the air.”

The Irish scored three times in the fourth quarter to end the Titans' streak of 44 unanswered points. But Carl Albert was able to close out the contest.

Carl Albert (13-0) will face nearby rival Del City (12-0) in the 5A state title game in a battle of undefeated squads. The two matched up in last year’s quarterfinal round, in which the Titans won 19-0.

“We got a lot of respect for those guys. I think it's cool for Mid-Del that you got two teams from the school district playing in it,” Dunn said. “But I also think it's cool that I think the best two teams made it to the finals and sometimes it doesn't work like that. It's hard to get there.” 

-- Michael Kinney | @SBLiveOK