NORMAN — Norman High fixed its problems. The bad penalties, stalled drives, missed blocks and three-and-outs that have plagued the Tigers for the past month weren’t a problem on Friday night.
Unfortunately, the Tigers developed an all-new set of problems in a 38-14 loss to Edmond Memorial.
Namely, a fumbling problem. The Tigers put the ball on the ground six times in the game and lost four of them. More damaging was that two of those fumbles were picked up off the ground by the Bulldogs and returned to the end zone, stealing the momentum and keeping the game out of the Tigers’ reach.
A pair of mental breakdowns on defense also cost NHS (2-3, 0-2). Two blown coverages allowed the Bulldogs (3-2, 1-1) to score twice late in the first half and turn what had been a tight 10-7 ballgame into a 24-14 halftime deficit that the Tigers couldn’t overcome.
“Our kids have to understand that you can’t make mistakes like that and win a ballgame,” NHS coach Greg Nation said. “Their passion is there, and their passion is winning. But right now we’re not getting it done. They have to understand that preparation for a game doesn’t begin when you walk into the locker room on Friday. It begins as soon as you finish the game the week before. That’s what our teams have done in the past, and that’s what we’re not understanding right now.”
The costly mistakes marred what otherwise was NHS’ best game in a month. The Tigers committed just three penalties in the game and had successful, sustained drives throughout. It was a vast improvement over the spotty offensive unit that had taken the field in consecutive losses to Yukon and Mustang.
But that didn’t matter on Friday night. As NHS fell further behind, the Bulldogs were able to milk the clock on time-consuming drives of their own. That forced the Tigers, whose offense also is centered upon running the ball, into a spot where they had to be much more aggressive than usual, a strategy that ultimately did not pay off.
There were some bright spots for NHS, which got a big game from Sayvon Foley, who returned a kick for a touchdown and added an interception. Aside from the two blown coverages, the defense also played well for most of the game, slowing Edmond Memorial’s star running back Warren Wand for most of the night.
But none of that will be of much condolence for the Tigers, whose playoff hopes were dealt a harsh blow from the loss. It dropped them to 0-2 in district play with some of their toughest games still left on the schedule.
“This is not a team of quitters who are just going to roll over,” Nation said. “The staff aren’t quitters and neither are these players. We’ll be back next week and get to it.”
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