By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Two minutes into the game, it looked like Norman High was in trouble. No. 6 Southmoore took the opening kickoff at its own 20 and effortlessly marched down the field. The SaberCats went 75 yards in just three plays before Tre Edwards punched it in to put Southmoore on top 7-0.
It seemed liked the Tigers might be in for a long night, and it didn’t look any better after NHS went three-and-out on its first possession.
Luckily for the Tigers, games aren’t decided in the first five minutes.
Behind A’erion Hines, NHS stormed back after the rough start, scoring 28 straight points to bury Southmoore early in the second quarter. The Tigers got another boost on a kick return touchdown, and Southmoore never got within a score again as NHS held on to win 41-28.
“That was a total team effort tonight,” coach Greg Nation said. “Our kids worked hard tonight. We talk about playing Norman Tiger football, and that’s what we did tonight.”
It was an important win for the eighth-ranked Tigers (6-1, 4-0), who believe they can win a loaded District 6A-4 and are in position to after Friday’s victory. NHS is now tied with Edmond Santa Fe at the top after Santa Fe defeated Lawton 68-28 on Thursday. Southmoore (5-2, 2-2), is reduced to hoping for an upset to regain a shot at the top.
Things weren’t easy for the typical Tiger running game, in part because back A’erion Hines was fighting a sore toe suffered in practice last week.
But it takes more than a sore toe to sideline Hines, and he showed both his toughness and athleticism on Friday. He delivered on both the hard yards and the big plays, from his 1-yard touchdown run in the first to put NHS on the board to his later highlight-reel touchdown scampers of 42 and 50 yards, he carried the Tigers, finishing with 182 yards and four touchdowns on 11 carries.
“My toe hurt, but I just wanted to do what I could do to help the team,” Hines said. “We knew Southmoore had a strong offense and could score at any time, so my objective tonight was just to do all we could do to keep them off the field.”
Southmoore tried to fight back after falling behind big. Edwards proved elusive all night for the Tigers, and he finished with two rushing touchdowns and 97 yards, while adding 161 passing yard and another score. Running back Karltrell Henderson, whom Nation called “one of the premier backs in the state” prior to the game, had 118 yards a score, but was partially slowed by the SaberCats’ need to throw the ball to conserve time.
And the Tigers’ defense stepped up after the opening drive. The coaches made the correct adjustments during the game, and NHS stiffened up, even stuffing Southmoore on three straight running plays from the goal line to hold the SaberCats scoreless and retake possession.
It’s no secret that NHS likes to run the football. But even armed with the knowledge that the running game was headed their way, the SaberCats couldn’t do enough to stop the triple option attack, led by quarterback Zach Long, who needed to throw just three passes in the victory.
The win was an important step toward a possible district championship, and the Tigers can take an even bigger one next week when they meet co-leader Edmond Santa Fe.
“This was a great win for us, especially after the loss to Southmoore last year,” senior Dalon Lehenbauer said. “This gives us a big boost going into next week.”
Corbin HoslerFollow me @Chosler88chosler@normantranscript.com
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