BIXBY – With a week to go until the start of the season, the Muskogee Roughers showed there was still work to be done by losing 13-0 to Broken Arrow in a 20-minute controlled scrimmage Friday night at Lee Snyder Stadium.
The Roughers started the summer ball with high expectations on offense with the return of second-year quarterback Jamarian “Bird” Ficklin and a host of talented receivers led by senior Jayden Bell, while the defense reorganizes after a season where they averaged over 40 points per game.
After a round robin session where teams alternated attacking and defending against various opponents, the Roughers and Tigers were the first to enter the main event.
Broken Arrow, a Class 6AI semifinalist last year, was first on offense and earned three first downs en route to Muskogee’s 33-yard line. The Rougher defense rallied to force a fourth-and-one at the 24, but were called for an illegal substitution moving the ball to the Rougher 12 and keeping the Tiger Drive alive. Four plays later, Broken Arrow scored the game’s only touchdown, capping a 75-yard, 15-rush drive that went over half time in 10 minutes in the first half.
The Roughers’ first possession scored a first down on a pass from Ficklin to Bell, but stalled forcing a punt from Ficklin that was rammed and then rolled back, resulting in a minus 12 yards, giving the ball to the Tigers at Muskogee 25.
Muskogee’s defense held on with the help of a four-yard tackle for the loss of senior Deshawn Smith and Broken Arrow was forced to settle for a 40-yard field goal to make it 10- 0.
With time running out in the half, the Roughers offense put on their best performance of the night collecting five first downs with Ficklin connecting on three key passes and a fine 17-yard run from Brandon Tolbert to pass to the Tiger’s 15-yard line. But Ficklin missed three passes and time ran out.
The Roughers went three times on their three second-half possessions as Broken Arrow, on short ground, went from the Muskogee 40 to the 12-yard line before clinching and settling for a field goal of 30 yards.
“We’ll get a better assessment of tonight after watching the film but in defense we kept the ball in front of us but didn’t do a very good job before stopping the run although Broken’s big offensive line Arrow played a part in that as well,” Roughers head coach Travis Hill said.
“But I think it made our kids realize that what we preached to them came to pass tonight and maybe we’ll get a little more reaction when we talk about it now.
It was in attack that his disappointment showed.
“I was a bit disappointed to be honest. We’ve been a bit sloppy and it’s not like us, so we’ll go to the toolbox and sort some things out before next week,” he said.
Statistically, the Roughers had 79 yards of offense. Ficklin passed 7 of 16 for 63 yards while the rushing game scored just 16 yards on eight carries. However, with officials using a quick whistle to stop the action when quarterbacks went out of the pocket or outfield to avoid injury, it shorted out some of Ficklin’s scrambling ability. Broken Arrow had 131 yards of offense, most of it rushing, against Rougher’s defense.
While it’s hard to find anything to get Rougher fans excited about, there was a real silver lining for Muskogee.
“The best thing about tonight is probably that we didn’t hurt anyone. Last year around this time, three starters got hurt, which kept them out for several weeks and really hampered our season,” Hill said.
The Roughers open the season next Friday night at Enid Road.