NORMAN — One step forward, two steps back.
That was the theme for Norman North on Friday night, as the Timberwolves shot themselves in the foot time and again in a crushing 31-21 loss to Putnam City North.
The loss throws the district playoff picture into chaos and came in disheartening fashion. The Timberwolves (5-3, 4-1) turned the ball over four times, had three trips inside the Panthers’ 10-yard line come up empty and two fumbles turned into Panthers’ touchdowns when Putnam City North scooped the ball and scored.
Despite outgaining Putnam City North (4-4, 4-1) by nearly 150 yards, the Timberwolves were never in control of the game. They fell behind early when Panthers quarterback Chase Sparks found Cayman Johnson on a perfectly executed wheel route before hitting Kaedyn Fuller on a deep ball to put Putnam City North up 14-0. From there, the Timberwolves kept trying to mount a comeback but were stopped by turnovers, dropped passes and a slew of penalties, including one first-half series that saw them facing down a first-and-43.
“Sometimes even the best players don’t execute 100 percent right all the time,” coach Wade Standley said. “We didn’t consistently execute tonight, and when they score on your turnovers it makes it tough.”
Despite entering the locker room at halftime down 21-0, the Timberwolves started the second half like a team in control. They picked off a pass early in the quarter and seemed poised to begin the comeback, but they had the first of two touchdowns called back by holding penalties.
Two other trips inside the 10-yard line came up empty, with one turning into a Panthers’ touchdown when a bad snap from the T-Wolves patented “U-Haul” formation sailed over the head of Payton Prince and was eventually scooped up by Putnam City North’s Dylan Peavy and returned 94 yards to make it 28-7.
That was the backbreaking play, and after recovering a pair of onside kicks the Panthers walked away with the win despite not entering Timberwolves territory in the second half until there was six minutes left in the game.
In his first disappointing start since taking over starting duties nearly a month ago, John Kolar was just 20 of 39 for the Timberwolves, throwing two touchdowns to just one interception but also missing several open receivers. The Timberwolves also had several costly drops on the night, including one in the end zone. Running back Quan Hogan accounted for nearly 200 all-purpose yards on the night. On the other side, wide receiver Kaedyn Fuller torched the Timberwolves with eight receptions for 190 yards and a score.
The loss turned the District 6A-3 race on its head. Norman North, Putnam City North and Edmond North are all tied for the district lead with two games to play, raising the stakes for each heading into the final stretch of the regular season.
“The only thing we can control is what we do and how we come back to practice next week,” Standley said. “Nothing changes for us. We’ve got to come back and get better and play our best game next week.”
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