TULSA, Oklahoma -- The East Central Cardinals managed to build a three-score lead in the first quarter, but had to hold off a late push by Stillwater Thursday to come away with a 27-21 win in the season opener.
East Central capitalized on Pioneers miscues early on. Damian Gibson intercepted a first-quarter Stillwater pass, returning it to the 20-yard line, grabbing a touchdown pass from quarterback Demarco Pitts on the ensuing drive.
The Cardinals picked off another Stillwater pass, Stanvon Taylor returning the interception 67 yards for a score to take a 14-0 advantage.
Pitts hooked up with Gibson yet again, this time for a five-yard score in the second quarter to put the East Central on top 20-0. The Cardinals scored their final points of the day in the closing seconds of the first half, with Tyler Coddington connecting with Demontre Burkhalter on a 31-yard score with 16 seconds left in the second quarter.
Stillwater battled back in the third quarter, quarterback Jerame Littell hooked up with Cory Hassel two times in the quarter to close the gap to just 13 points. The Pioneers would add one more score in the fourth quarter, but couldn't come all the way back.
Next up for East Central will be a state championship rematch with the Booker T. Washington Hornets, while Stillwater will host Edmond Memorial.