NORMAN — After turning a corner this season in Noble, the Bears came up just a few plays short in their attempt to return to the postseason. Noble traveled to Shawnee on Friday with a playoff berth on the line, but Shawnee came away with a 58-34 victory to end the Bears’ season.
The final score doesn’t reflect how competitive the game was. The Bears went into the locker room at halftime on top, but fell behind in the second half and had to take increasingly dangerous chances to try and climb back into the game. That resulted in a failed fourth-down conversion and an interception that allowed Shawnee to pull away in the game’s final minutes.
“We played really well until the final 10 minutes or so,” coach Steve Barrett said. “Offensively we scored enough points to win, but it didn’t pan out as I thought it would defensively.”
Shawnee’s offensive balance undid the Bears on Friday. Forced between defending the passing or running game, the Bears focused on stopping the pass, and that allowed the Wolves to break several long plays on the ground.
Despite the setback, it was an encouraging year for Noble in Barrett’s third season back at the helm. The Bears improved their win total from last season, and lost several other games by a matter of a few plays.
“I think definitely we’re headed in the right direction,” Barrett said. “Going forward we’ve got to consistently be disciplined and play hard-nosed football to be successful. Our kids have acclimated to that and we’re continuously making improvement. There’s no reason we can’t continue to move forward.”
Turnovers the difference for Tigers: Just a few weeks after coach Greg Nation made a public declaration that his team needed to force more turnovers, the Tigers have responded in a big way.