CHOCTAW — Last week was one of the toughest games of Dupree Young’s career. Norman High’s senior running back fumbled the ball several times and found himself on the sideline for the last quarter of the game while the Tigers fell to Edmond Memorial.
What a difference a week can make.
Just seven days after being forced to watch from the sidelines, Young returned to the field and dominated from the start in a 49-31 win over Choctaw on Friday night.
Young rushed for 307 yards and scored six times to lead the Tigers to victory over the Yellow Jackets, earning the team its first district victory in the process. It was a career performance for the back, and one that coach Greg Nation said he was long overdue for.
“He was due for a big game,” he said. “He’s too good to have a night like tonight. He doesn’t get complacent. He took what happened last week to heart and you could see that in practice and tonight. He wanted to come out and play hard. He hit the hole and wrapped that ball up every time.”
The yards came not just in bunches — though with touchdown runs of 19, 24, 25, and 51 yards there were plenty of those plays — but also in the kind of tough short-yardage plays that make the NHS offense go. Young carried 30 times on the night and averaged more than 10 yards a touch, keying NHS to a total of 437 yards rushing.
“I saw my linemen make big blocks in front of me and I just tried to use that,” he said after the game. “All week in practice I just thought about how good backs don’t turn the ball over, and that’s what I focused on. Coach Nation always talks about guys stepping up to spark the team. Tonight I just tried to be that spark.”
His coaches may have argued he was more than that, as the Tigers took the field without the other half of the backfield in Darius Manning. NHS turned to Bryce Burkhart to spell Young, and the junior rushed well in the snaps he was given.
Friday’s win was more than just a combination of big games from its feature players; Nation said the Tigers blocked better than they have in a month. That allowed them to fight back after falling behind 10-7 on Choctaw’s Jacob McMullen’s astounding 57-yard field goal that easily cleared the uprights. The Tigers scored 21 unanswered after that, and didn’t trail again.
Jakcob Dean played a clean and efficient game under center, rushing for 84 yards and adding another 59 through the air. More importantly, the Tigers fumbled the ball just once all night after a handful a week ago, and they quickly recovered the one dropped ball they had on Friday.
“We played Tiger football tonight,” he said. “We’re a team that has to play tough and fight, and we did that tonight. It’s the first time we’ve played like that all year.”
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