NORMAN — It may have been a “meaningless” game for Norman High, which was already guaranteed second place in District 6A-4 before Friday night’s game against Lawton. But that didn’t stop the Tigers from delivering an impressive win over Lawton High anyway.
After falling behind 7-0, the eighth-ranked Tigers quickly took control of the game, going on several long drives and converting on each. They then withstood a furious second-half charge by the Wolverines that went down to the wire, and walked away with a 26-21 victory that ended Lawton’s playoff hopes.
Entering the game, everyone on the field knew that NHS was going to keep it on the ground, and there’s no doubt that Lawton prepped against it all week. But that didn’t stop the Tigers from running wild over the Wolverines, with the usual trio of Zach Long, Imond Robinson and A’erion Hines accounting for every one of NHS’ 384 yards, with Robinson gaining 156 on the ground and Long finishing with 155 all-purpose yards.
“Our run game was just popping tonight,” coach Greg Nation said. “We’ve proven we can throw the ball, but we saw things in what they were giving us tonight and it worked.”
While NHS (8-2, 6-1) controlled the game most of the way, Lawton (6-4, 3-4) made a serious threat at the end. Taking over the ball with almost five minutes left and down 26-15, the Wolverines marched downfield as NHS went into the prevent defense. The drive culminated in a Dallas Sealey 6-yard score, but the Tigers broke up the pass attempt on the two-point conversion.
After recovering the kick, Lawton was able to stop the Tigers and use its three timeouts to stop the clock. It looked like the Wolverines were poised to make a final drive, but they muffed the punt return and Jake Stinson fell on the ball for NHS to end the game and Lawton’s season.
“The while time I was thinking, ‘maybe he’ll drop it, maybe he’ll drop it,’” Long said. “Then when he really did and I saw Stinson flying on it I was just so relieved.”
A pair of timely fumble recoveries and an interception in the second half helped the Tigers to hold on to the lead.
The game didn’t affect NHS’ playoff positioning, with the Tigers earning second place in the district last week, but it was a must-win for Lawton. With the loss, the Wolverines, considered one of the best teams in the state at the start of the year, fell out of playoff contention.
Still, it was an important game for the Tigers, who wanted to improve on their 7-3 record from a year ago, and did so with their only losses this season coming to top-10 teams in Norman North and Edmond Santa Fe.
“We wanted this game to keep that momentum going into next week,” Long said. “Now we’ve got to come back out and work harder to prepare for the playoffs.”
The Tigers will open the playoffs with a home playoff game against Yukon at 7 p.m. on Thursday. The two teams met in Week 3, with NHS coming out 34-21.
Corbin HoslerFollow me @Chosler88chosler@normantranscript.com