SHAWNEE — With a berth in the Class 5A football playoffs on the line, Noble and Shawnee traded big plays like a pair of heavyweight fighters Friday night.
In the end, Shawnee quarterback John Jacobs’ five touchdown runs and two touchdown passes were too much for Noble, as the Wolves outlasted the Bears 58-34 at Jim Thorpe Stadium.
The final margin was much more lopsided than the score would show, as the Wolves added two touchdowns in the final minute in a game that essentially was a playoff game a week before postseason actually begins. The Wolves take fourth place in District 5A-3 while the Bears’ season ends with a 5-5 record.
Noble senior running back Jimmy Wood came into the contest with nearly 1,600 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns in eight games since missing the season opener against Tecumseh. And he didn’t disappoint, tearing up the Shawnee defense for three touchdowns, 214 yards on 21 carries and another 69 yards receiving in his final high school game.
Wood gave Noble a 34-30 lead early in the third quarter with a 55-yard touchdown run that featured his speed and power, first in getting to the outside, then with two punishing stiffarms on would-be Shawnee tacklers.
The score stayed there until Jacobs’ untouched 50-yard keeper made it 37-34 for Shawnee early in the fourth quarter.
Noble methodically drove back down inside the Shawnee 20, but the Wolves held and forced a missed field goal with just under eight minutes to play.
From there came what was a rarity on this night – a sustained drive, which allowed the Wolves to run off six minutes before Jacobs scored on a 33-yard run, leaving the Bears less than two minutes to mount a rally they weren’t able to produce.
While Noble wound up piling up 521 yards of total offense, the Shawnee defense managed to keep the Bears off the scoreboard for the final 20 minutes of game time.
The first half saw the teams go back and forth with big plays. By halftime, the Bears had 355 total yards, a total that started from the game’s first snap, a 45-yard shovel pass to Austin Echols. The Bears needed just one more play to get in the end zone on a trick play, with Cody Graves hitting Devin Wheeler on a reverse pass from 35 yards out for a 7-0 lead.
After a 15-yard scoring run by Jacobs, Noble came back with Dakota Boxwell finding Wood on a screen pass for a 31-yard score and a 14-7 advantage.
The Shawnee pair of Jacobs and Theo Berry hit Noble for several big pass plays, setting up a second Jacobs touchdown run with a long completion to tie the game.
The next series, a circus catch by Berry set up a third score for Shawnee’s first lead, 22-14 early in the second.
But the Bears again had the answer, first on a 2-yard scoring run by Wood after the Wolves muffed a punt, and later a 26-yard run by Echols that Wood set up with a 38-yard pass reception from Boxwell and a 27-22 halftime edge.
In addition to another strong game for Wood, Echols gave the Bears a big night with 87 yards receiving and another 84 on the ground.
The Bears fell short of their first playoff appearance in five years, but still made big strides after only winning three games the previous two seasons.
Shawnee goes on to face Tulsa East Central in the opening round of postseason play next week.