JENKS — The Tuttle Tigers earned the opportunity to go for gold.
The Associated Press' top-ranked team in Class 4A battled No. 2 Poteau in the Class 4A semifinals at Jenks' Allan Trimble Stadium on Friday. Coming off a game in which Tuttle ran for four touchdowns, the offense threw for a majority of the team's touchdowns during Friday's win.
Tuttle quarterback Mason Dennis threw three touchdowns in a 28-21 victory that sent the Tigers to the Class 4A state title game for the second time in four seasons. Dennis threw for almost 200 yards to go along with those three touchdown passes.
After a quarterfinal victory over Wagoner, Tuttle head coach Brad Ballard talked about the respect Tuttle has for the Poteau program, and Poteau made sure to earn more respect during the game.
The Pirates delivered the first punch in the game, scoring on a long touchdown in the first quarter and taking a 7-0 lead.
But Tuttle had an answer, scoring the game's next 14 points.
Tuttle marched down the field on the ensuing drive and found the end zone through the air. Dennis managed to find Brady McAdoo for a 19-yard touchdown pass.
Tuttle took its first lead of the game in the second quarter, scoring a go-ahead touchdown on the ground. Canon West carried the load in Tuttle's rushing attack, and he found the end zone to give the Tigers their first lead.
Poteau got a short field in the second quarter and tied the game at 14 points apiece, but Tuttle had another answer and had momentum at halftime.
After Dennis and Mason Stokes connected for a long gain, Tuttle found a big opportunity to score before halftime. A majority of the yards on the play came after the catch.
Dennis unleashed a pass to the end zone on the drive.
Nathan Ross jumped in the air and came down with a catch to give Tuttle another lead. Ross caught three passes for 67 yards in the win and had two touchdown receptions.
The Tigers held a 21-14 lead at halftime.
But Poteau continued to hang around and tied the game at 21 points in the third quarter. Again, Tuttle had an answer and scored on the ensuing drive.
Dennis and Ross connected on another touchdown pass in the third quarter, and Ross broke multiple tackles on the play. Ross managed to stay on his feet before finding the end zone on what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown.
With Tuttle leading by seven points in the second half, Tuttle's defense shut down the Poteau offense the rest of the way. Dillon Ballard recorded an interception for the Tigers in the second half.
While the defense kept Poteau from scoring another touchdown, Tuttle's offense was able to run out the clock on the team's final offensive drive.
The Tigers will now play the Clinton Red Tornadoes in the Class 4A state championship game later this week. Clinton came in at No. 3 in the final AP poll.
The state title game will start at 7 p.m. Friday and will take place in Edmond. The University of Central Oklahoma will host the two teams.