TULSA — Norman North is going to the state championship.
In a game that wasn’t decided until literally the final second, the Timberwolves didn’t know they had defeated Owasso until senior linebacker Jordan Evans, who starred in all three phases of the game, took off on a dead sprint down the field, not stopping until he reached the end zone, where he was mobbed by his teammates, setting off the raucous celebration that definitely declared that the T-Wolves are going to the title game.
“Words can’t even describe how I was feeling, and I just took off running,” Evans said of his enthusiastic celebration. “Just getting that sack; I knew we had finally done it.”
And all it took for the Timberwolves was the wildest game of the season against Owasso in the Class 6A semifinal Friday night at Tulsa Union. It was a game that looked like it would be a defensive battle but ended up producing more than 1,000 yards of offense. It was a game that saw four ties and three lead changes. It was a game of big plays and big hits, the biggest coming on Evans’ sack on the final snap of the game.
Most importantly to North, it was a game the Timberwolves won, 49-42.
“We put our blood, sweat and tears into this, and it feels great,” tight end Payton Prince said. “Everyone came together to make this happen.”
And how it happened was dramatic.
The game started with both teams trading unproductive possessions, with North quarterback Peyton Gavras under-throwing several receivers and Jaylen Lowe, his counterpart from Owasso, doing the same.
But North got on the board first, with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Gavras to Bryan Payne. That play seemed to open the floodgates, and for a time it looked like the Timberwolves might run away with the game in the same way as Jenks pummeled Union 41-10 in the other semifinal of the night. North jumped out to 21-0 and 28-7 leads in the second quarter behind an Evans touchdown on a return, his fifth of the season, and a trio of touchdown throws by Gavras.
But things didn’t stay that way long. Owasso, one of the most explosive offensive teams in the state, finally got rolling in the second quarter. The Rams pulled to within seven points by halftime, and picked up where they left off in the second half, with the touchdowns piling up quickly on long plays.
Midway through the third quarter, what once looked like a North blowout became a 42-35 Owasso lead.
“We knew they were good on offense, and we knew there would be momentum shifts,” Evans said. “We just told ourselves we’ve come too far for this to be our last game. We stayed calm and knew we could get stops.”
And they did. The T-Wolves stopped Owasso on two critical fourth-down plays in the fourth quarter, one coming on the three-yard line, while the offense continued to roll. North finally retook the lead, 49-42, on a 70-yard pass from Gavras to Jake Higginbotham, and were able to keep Owasso out of the end zone in the final few minutes to seal the program’s first-ever trip to the state championship.
“I’ve never seen guys with such heart,” coach Wade Standley said. “They just refused to lose. It was such a rollercoaster of a game. I knew the offense would continue to move the ball, and I told the defense they would have a chance to win the game. And they stepped up when it mattered.”
There is one potential piece of bad news for the Timberwolves. Gavras took a hard hit late in the game and was woozy afterward, though the extent of the injury wasn’t immediately clear.
Corbin HoslerFollow me @Chosler88chosler@normantranscript.com