Norman High vs Moore Football

Norman High quarterback Tias Mcclarty passes the ball during the Tigers' game against Moore, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, at Moore High School. (Kyle Phillips / The Transcript)

Through its first two games, Norman High has found themselves with an early deficit.

In the Crosstown Clash last week, Norman North led by two touchdowns midway through the first quarter.

On Thursday night, Moore held an early 7-0 lead after returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown. The Lions built on that lead early, and took a 22-point lead into halftime.

That early lead proved to be too much for the Tigers, as they fell 41-30 in their second straight loss to open the season.

NHS coach Rocky Martin had hoped to see better play from his team after they struggled early against Norman North.

“I saw some sloppy football,” Martin said. “I just thought fundamentally, I thought we didn’t block, I thought we didn’t tackle.”

Other first-quarter mistakes hurt the Tigers, too. The offense failed to pick up a first down on its first two drives, and Moore managed to block the Tigers’ second punt which gave the Lions’ offense great field position.

The Tigers lost a fumble on their third possession of the game, which Moore capitalized on with a score a few players later.

“Fundamentally, we’ve just got to be more savvy,” Martin said.

But just like last week, the Tigers tried to stage a late rally.

NHS running back Devin Alexander scored from five yards out on the Tigers’ first possession of the second half, and Xavier Shackleford scored on a 53-yard run early in the fourth quarter as the Tigers’ offense found its rhythm.

NHS quarterback Tias McClarty scored on a 15-yard run late in the fourth quarter, but Moore made just enough plays down the stretch as time expired on the Tigers’ late rally.

The Tigers outscored the Lions 24-20 after that first quarter, but Moore was able to find a rhythm in its running game to keep the NHS offense off the field.

“Obviously, the kickoff right off the bat hurt us,” Martin said. “We thought they were going to throw the ball on us a little more, but they ended up running the ball more.”

“We can’t lose easy. I tell the team all the time, ‘if you lose easy, you’re going to lose often.’”

McClarty had another solid outing for the Tigers, building off last week’s performance with 125 yards rushing against Moore, but the team has struggled to move the ball consistently down the field through its first two games.

The team has also struggled with turnovers, often finding themselves in long down-and-distances that have been hard to overcome.

“Getting behind the chains, tackling — those are things that we control and we’ve got to be better at,” Martin said.

The Lions (3-0) proved to be a difficult matchup for NHS and look poised to make a legitimate playoff run after building on last week’s dominant win over Westmoore.

The Tigers now sit at 0-2 on the season, but Martin stressed it’s not panic time yet.

“We’ve got big things we’ve got to learn from,” Martin said. “We’ve got to watch film. We’ve got to see what and where we can be better. We’ve got to practice better, and we’ve got to improve in a number of areas.”

Jesse Crittenden is the sports editor of The Transcript and covers OU athletics. Reach him at jesse@normantranscript.com or at 405-366-3580

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