NORMAN — Preparing for a showdown with Class 5A’s No. 10 Del City, coach Wade Standley said he expected vast improvement from his team after a tough loss to Norman High in the Crosstown Clash last week.
He got that on Friday night, and maybe most importantly, it came in areas the T-Wolves most needed it: along the offensive line and in the secondary.
The biggest story coming out of North’s wild 41-38 victory over the Eagles was the improvement of the offensive line. In the T-Wolves’ Crosstown Clash loss to NHS last week, they gave up nine sacks and allowed the Tigers to spend the entire night in quarterback David Cornwell’s face.
That changed on Friday. Standley started four sophomores along the line, and they performed. Cornwell was sacked three times, but had much more time in the backfield to make his reads than he did the week before. It also helped that Cornwell, who had been dealing with an injured ankle for several weeks, seemed to be at full strength on Friday.
All of which combined to give Cornwell the kind of night that’s expected of the Alabama commit and one of the top prospects in the country. He finished with 319 yards and three touchdowns, coming on a night where he completed 23 of his 32 passes without throwing an interception. It was a big jump from his Timberwolves’ debut and one that the team hopes will set the tone for the rest of the season.
“On and off the field, David has been so big for us,” tight end Payton Prince said. “He made so many big throws in the game.”
Prince wasn’t bad himself on Friday night. Going back to the short-yardage, power formation that North utilized heavily last year, Prince scored twice on the ground against Del City.
While the progress made by the offense was encouraging, it wouldn’t have mattered if not for the defense making the same strides. A unit that had difficulty slowing down the Tigers’ rushing attack a week ago had some of the same struggles against Del City’s Terry Wilson. The mobile quarterback ran wild over North’s defense for part of the night, but the Timberwolves stepped up when it mattered.
That meant that, despite Wilson’s more than 400 yards of total offense, North was able to get stops when it mattered. The Timberwolves stopped the Eagles on a late fourth-down and came up with a late interception to seal the game.
For the inexperienced squad the North put on the field this season, Friday’s win was an important step forward, Standley said.
“Week by week our goal is just to get better each week,” he said. “This week was about us. It was about getting better one day at a time.”
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