EDMOND — On the first play of his senior year at Norman North, David Cornwell swung a short pass to running back Quan Hogan. It was a solid pass and went for a first down, but it was a pass any high school quarterback could make.
Several plays later, Cornwell made a play that only he can.
Forced out of the pocket due to the Edmond Santa Fe rush, Cornwell rolled to his right and spotted Nick Basquine streaking down the right side. Off-balance, he launched a 50-yard throw that hit Basquine right in the numbers as he leapt over the defender.
The touchdown play was the highlight of the night for North, which fell to OU commit and Edmond Santa Fe quarterback Justice Hansen’s Wolves 34-16 in the season’s first scrimmage.
“For the first scrimmage, I was impressed with what our guys did,” Cornwell said. “We gave a lot of energy and we were able to move the ball at will.”
While the offense showed flashes of greatness, all was not perfect in the Timberwolves’ first trip back to the field after last season’s loss to Jenks in the state-title game.
Replacing nearly an entire defense, one that at times carried North last season, the Timberwolves struggled early against Hansen. While both teams’ starters were in, Edmond Santa Fe had one long touchdown run called back by a penalty, but followed it up two plays later with a 51-yard touchdown pass that saw Edmond Santa Fe receiver Malik Earl juke several T-Wolves defenders. Hansen later followed up by carving through North’s defense on a 65-yard touchdown run.
North was able to force several turnovers on the night, most coming after Hansen left the game.
Competing against one of the state’s most well-polished offenses was a tough first test for North’s inexperienced defensive unit, and one that coach Wade Standley believes will benefit them in the long run.
“We were able to get some turnovers, but we’ve got to be more gap-sound defensively,” Standley said. “It’s all correctable. What’s important is that more than anything these guys are focused on getting better.”
One area that looked sound was the offense. As expected, Cornwell has re-ignited an offense that scored in bunches last season. Sophomore Quan Hogan provided a big-play threat at running back and broke several long plays on Thursday, creating a balance that North lacked a season ago.
But the T-Wolves did falter inside the red zone. Four times they failed to put points up after advancing past the 20-yard line, something that senior Payton Prince said has to change.
“We just couldn’t finish tonight,” he said. “We have to be 100 percent in the red zone; it was a few plays that turned the game. We’ll come out next week and we have to focus in practice and get better.”
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