Oklahoma Class 5A football: McGuinness completes comeback against McAlester, earns state title berth
Cole Limber knew he was going to score as soon as he made his cut.
McGuinness’ senior receiver saw the defender who was covering him on his outside hip, giving him inside leverage. It was the perfect setup for his post route. Limber broke toward the goal posts, and quarterback Luke Tarman quickly fired a strike to Limber, who was waiting open in the end zone.
Limber’s touchdown, his second of the night, was the go-ahead score in No. 3 McGuinness’ 28-21 win against No. 4 McAlester on Friday at Pribil Stadium in the Class 5A semifinals. McGuinness trailed by one until the touchdown pass with 19 seconds left to propel the Fighting Irish to their fourth state title game in the past five seasons.
“We had been running a curl with a wheel route all night,” Tarman said. “We said we’re not going to run a curl, instead run a post and it’ll come wide open, and it did. He ran a great route and was wide open.”
Tarman and Limber connected on a 42-yard strike earlier in the drive to put McGuinness (10-2) into McAlester territory. Tarman heaved a pass down the center of the field that seemed to hang. Limber positioned himself under it and jumped over two Buffaloes’ defenders to make the catch.
A defensive pass interference penalty game McGuinness a first down at the 22. Tarman then rushed for a 3-yard loss and threw an incompletion before finding Limber for the game-winning score.
“I know I already have high blood pressure, but that right there was a roller coaster of emotions,” McGuinness coach Bryan Pierce said.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, McAlester (10-3) was driving when McGuinness freshman linebacker Elijah McBride went down with what appeared to be a neck injury. An ambulance was called and the game delayed about 30 minutes.
After the stoppage, McGuinness was able to force a turnover on downs.
McAlester lead 21-14 at halftime, and sophomore running back Erik McCarty was seemingly unstoppable. He rushed 13 times for 127 yards and two scores. He finished with 195 rushing yards but was unable to find the end zone in the second half, and McAlester’s offense struggled.
The Fighting Irish will face Carl Albert for the second straight season and fourth time in the past five years in the Class 5A state championship game at 7 p.m. next Saturday at Wantland Stadium in Edmond. For the senior pair of Limber and Tarman, they’re excited for a chance to go out on top.
“I’d be lying if I said I thought my senior season wasn’t going to be over (tonight),” Limber said. “I'm glad we came back and I’m pretty excited for next week.”
Reporter Cameron Jourdan covers high school sports across the Oklahoma City metro and state. Have a story idea for Cameron? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @Cam_Jourdan. Support Cameron’s work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at oklahoman.com/subscribe or by using the link at the top of this page.