MOORE — When Moore took the field Thursday, it was looking to do something it hadn’t done in years. With a win over a struggling Putnam City North squad, it would own a 2-0 record in district action, which hadn’t been done since 2007.
Unfortunately for the Lions, they were suddenly struck with the inability to hold onto the ball, and it led to a 31-23 loss to Putnam City North at Moore Stadium.
“It’s just mistakes,” senior running back Ryan Lujan said. “It’s going to happen. But it shouldn’t happen this game. We had a good week of practice coming in. We just didn’t execute when we needed to.”
As a team, Moore fumbled the football nine times on the night, including three that the Panthers (1-4, 1-1 District 6A-3) recovered. It was too big of a hole for the team to overcome in the end.
“The turnovers affected us real bad,” Moore defensive end Tyeson Neals said. “But we kept our heads up for the most part trying to fight for the win. We just have to practice harder, work harder, focus. Mental reps.”
Moore (1-4, 1-1 District 6A-3) had to play the game without starting quarterback Jordan Bernhardy, who had to sit out his second game due to doctor’s orders because of a strained neck he suffered in the second week of the season.
The Lions were also without their starting center from the first four weeks, who announced to the team he was moving to Ardmore last week. It was an omniscient sign for MHS.
With Jordan Norris starting at quarterback, the senior fumbled the first two snaps from scrimmage, losing the second one. The Panthers’ Cayman Johnson scored on the next play to put PCN up 7-0.
The fumbles kept coming as Moore put the ball on the ground four times in the first quarter. They lost two of them and both led to touchdowns.
Norris gave another one away to start the second for the team’s fifth fumble of the night as he and the center could not get the snap under control.
When the Lions weren’t giving the ball away, they put the ball in Lujan’s hands. He powered his way through the middle of Panthers’ defense time after time and racked up 152 yards rushing.
However, when Moore moved the ball inside the Panthers’ 10-yard line, Lujan was not on the field. Neither was Norris, who was replaced by K.J. Carrethers after his sixth fumble of the first half.
Carrethers carried four straight times but was unable to cross the goal line. PCN took a 14-0 advantage into halftime.
On the second play of the third quarter, it was the Panthers turn to lay the ball on the ground. The Lions took advantage of the miscue when Lujan scored from two yards out.
However, PCN struck back in a hurry with a 67-yard bomb to Kaedyn Fuller less than a minute later. The Panthers held a 21-6 lead with 10:10 left in the third period.
Stephan Robinson’s 50-yard touchdown catch from Norris right before the end of the third closed the gap to 21-16 heading into fourth.
Robinson scored again with 1:05 left in the game to give the Lions life.
“It felt good to help the team out,” Robinson said. “Best game of my life. Two touchdowns just feels good.”
But Moore was unable to recover the onside kick and the Panthers ran the clock down to end the night.
The Lions outgained the Panthers 428-337. That includes controlling the clock with 330 yards rushing. But the fumbles and miscues kept them out of the win column.
Moore expects Bernhardy back next week when they take on Eisenhower. But they will have to fix this sudden turnover problem first.
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