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Altus 5A State Championship caps a storybook year for Bulldogs

It's a kick that will live in Altus lore for many years to come.

Gabe Barton's 40-yard field goal as time expired gave Altus a 31-28 victory over Collinsville and along with it, the 5A State Championship.

"There's so many emotions going through my head right now,” said Barton. “I'm just really excited. You can see that everyone is crazy. This is what we've been dreaming since we were in junior high. To go out and do this. And for me to come out and win it...it's amazing."

"We knew we had the best kicker in the state. Haven't used him a whole lot. To be honest, haven't had to. But man how clutch,” said Jeremy Reed, Altus Head Coach. “I told him right before he went out, I said, ‘Bubba, you're going to make this. You're going to drill it.’"

The late game drama was a result of some highly competitive football in the second half. The Bulldogs appeared to take control in the third quarter when Jayden Benway picked off Collinsville's Seth Boomer in the end zone and ran it back 101 yards for a touchdown, giving Altus a 20-7 advantage.

"Levi Draper...I played off of him a little bit because I didn't know if I could out jump him just playing straight up man-to-man. And I saw him run a slant and I just read the quarterback...and went with it,” said Benway.

"Why do you throw at Jayden Benway? You know he's done it all year. He's done it his whole career. And such a clutch play. He is the true X-factor of our team," said Reed.

The Cardinals responded with 14 straight points to grab a 21-20 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs, needing an answer, turned to star running back Taven Birdow, who delivered his third touchdown of the afternoon and added the two-point conversion to put Altus in front 28-21.

"It's a game changer of course. We knew we had to have it. And I mean our offense is pretty good at doing something when we need it,” said Birdow. “And I mean...the line stepped it up toward the end of the game. They knew what they were supposed to do and they started executing pretty well."

"He's special. He's special athletically. He's special as a person. And I told him right before he went out and we got that touchdown in the third quarter, I said ‘It's time to take over Taven. And I felt like he did,’" said Reed.

Collinsville would tie the game at 28. But with 3:51 left on the clock the Bulldogs marched down field again, picking up a few first downs which led to the Barton field and gave a town a championship it has been starving for, for more than four decades.

"Unbelievable. People can't fathom what it's like to coach in Altus when you're winning at a high level. These people are crazy about their Bulldogs. And it's so neat for me to sit back and see,” said Reed. “The day we got there, there was so much doubt and it was down and everybody was just...it was a drought. A drought with our weather. A drought within our athletics and football. To see that come out is amazing. "

It's the culmination of a two-year reclamation project. Jeremy Reed and his staff arrived on the scene in 2014, and turned a program in desperate need of confidence after three straight 3-7 seasons into State Champions less than 24 months later. Reporting from Yukon, Kyle Weatherly, 7Sports.

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