NOBLE — The Noble Bears haven’t been to the playoffs since George W. Bush was president and MySpace was still relevant.
So for the first time since 2006, the Bears had playoff implications on the line — and the pivotal contest fell on senior night.
Heading into the game, if the Bears knew that if they won out in the regular season, they would make the Class 5A state playoffs. If they lost, they would need some magic to happen in other district games around the state.
Fortunately for the Bears, the seniors came to play as Durant (1-9, 1-6 5A-3) fell 30-12 to Noble (5-4, 3-3).
The game didn’t guarantee the Bears a spot in the postseason, but the win ensured that they could force a winner-take-all game with Shawnee on Friday.
Getting to that point wouldn’t come easily.
Noble center Brady Bradshaw had trouble snapping the ball to quarterback Dakota Boxwell, rocketing the ball over Boxwell’s head twice in the first half. Both fumbles lead to turnovers and translated into scoring drives for the Lions.
Bears’ running back Jimmy Wood, the state’s fifth leading rusher coming into the game, rumbled for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Wood, who told The Transcript earlier this week that he had a season-goal to reach 2,000 yards, now has 1,572 and 11 touchdowns on the season.
If it wasn’t for the good field position the Lions received on the two fumble recoveries, this game may have been a shutout.
Durant quarterback Zac Cater, although he showed some speed on his feet, couldn’t get the same kind of production in the passing game — completing around 37 percent of his passes and throwing two interceptions.
Lions’ punter Dakota Green was the busiest man on the squad, punting five times and actually showing a pretty solid leg — averaging about 40 yards per punt.
Friday the Bears travel to Shawnee to face the Wolves to wrap up the regular season. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in a game that has essentially come down to a two-team playoff.