By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
MOORE — For 12 minutes Friday, Moore had no answer. Facing cross-town rival Southmoore in the Big Cat Classic, the Lions watched as the SaberCats engulfed them like a tidal wave for the entire first quarter.
When Moore finally came up for air, it trailed 35-0 with no chance of making a serious comeback. The Cats went on to win 58-14 at Moore Stadium to earn their fifth straight win in the series.
“Southmoore had a lot of intensity coming out,” Moore quarterback Jordan Bernhardy said. “It all fell apart in the first quarter. We battled back, but you can’t do nothing when you go down 30-0.”
The SaberCats (2-1) were looking for a way to wash the taste out of their mouths from last week’s trouncing at the hands of Westmoore. They took their frustration out on the Lions (0-3), who didn’t help themselves by turning the ball over seven times.
“We played well,” Southmoore quarterback Conner Uselton said. “We controlled turnovers, did our job, executed enough to win. We did what we needed to do.”
The Lions had a rough beginning when Stephan Robinson muffed the game’s opening kickoff and the Cats took over at the 11-yard line. Two plays later Jalen Adams caught his first touchdown of the season to give Southmoore a 7-0 advantage.
The SaberCats added to their lead on the next series when Jaelon Walker broke loose for a 55-yard TD run.
Unlike last week, the Lions’ offense got off to a slow start. Midway through the period, Southmoore’s Cory Keyes leveled Bernhardy and forced him out of the game. The next play backup quarterback Jordan Norris fumbled. It led to a Pierce Spead touchdown run.
The rest of the quarter was a blur for the Lions. They gave up two safeties, a touchdown and field goal to trail 35-0. In all, Southmoore allowed three safeties in the first half.
Before halftime, Southmoore’s Reece Gilbert picked off Bernhardy. On the very next play, Moore’s Casen Haddox got the ball back when he intercepted Uselton in the back of the end zone.
Instead of running out the final seconds, Moore tried to throw the ball down the field with less than a minute on the clock. However, Dunya Rice danced along the sideline as he came up with an interception to close out the half.
“I was actually off and misread the play,” said Rice, who started his first game at cornerback. “I was just lucky to be there and catch it.”
Moore came out in the third quarter feeding Ryan Lujan the ball. The senior tailback pounded his way through the middle of the SaberCats’ front line, carrying defenders with him.
“At halftime we all talked,” Lujan said. “I talked to my linemen. Told them to keep pushing and I was going to do my best to get what I can. And they did their job.”
After Bernhardy scrambled for 16 yards on fourth down, Lujan put the Lions on the board with a punishing TD tun. Robinson also scored in the third period for the Lions as they cut the lead to 44-13 heading into the fourth.
But that would be as close as the Lions would get. With Norris on crutches with an ankle injury and Lujan nursing an injured hand, Moore was quickly running out of players.
Freshman Gervarrius Owens forced a fumble for Southmoore and Gilbert returned it for a touchdown to close the book on the night. Even though he didn’t have a touchdown dance to show off, Gilbert said his defense played well.
“I think we did our job,” Gilbert said. “We played our hearts out and came out on top. We came ready to play, prepared well this whole week. Our team came ready to play and get that bad taste out of our mouths.”
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