JENKS — Norman High just put together a tutorial for how to go on the road as an overwhelming underdog and still maintain momentum.
The No. 10 Tigers came into Allen Trimble Stadium feeling good, riding a two-game win streak. They left with their win streak snapped, but didn't feel all too bad while looking up a 42-20 loss to No. 2 Jenks.
NHS (4-4, 2-3 District 6AI-1) matched the Trojans' (7-1, 4-1) intensity on their senior night. The visitors, who hadn't beat Jenks since 1992, had plenty highlights in all three phases of the game. They even had a chance to walk away with a district point, as a hail mary from quarterback Cade Horton hit the turf at the buzzer. They forced Jenks to methodically move the ball, instead of allowing big plays, and the NHS offense had just two punts, none in the second half.
“We saw a lot of good things,” NHS coach Rocky Martin said. “They feel they can play with anyone in the state. We still got to work and prepare each week, but it's good to see us playing with confidence. Even when we get down, they're not just giving up.”
NHS still controls its playoff destiny, needing to win at least one, and possibly two, of its final two games against No. 4 Edmond Santa Fe (7-1, 4-1) and No. 6 Westmoore (5-3, 3-2).
But Martin, in his second season, seemed confident in his team's ability to win out. He told his players to expect it, a change in tone for a program that had won three games in its last three seasons.
“It's great being in the position we're in,” Martin said. “I couldn't be more proud of these boys. They change we've seen in a year and a half is pretty neat.”
Last time at Jenks, NHS trailed 58-0 at halftime.
This fall, it was a two-score game, 21-6.
The Tigers even took a lead, turning a fumbled quarterback-running back exchange into a 25-yard field goal by Grady Wade to go up 3-0.
Wade tacked on another field goal, and the NHS defense, which forced Jenks to 52 plays on the night, got a red-zone stop right before halftime when Ethan Barnard's 35-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.
The Trojans' big-play weapons were kept somewhat quiet. Running back Ethan Hernandez had three touchdowns, touting 121 yards on seven carries, but he had just one carry for double-digit yards in the second half. Quarterback Ian Corwin completed just one pass for more than 20 yards after torching NHS' defense for six touchdowns last year.
With a chance to make the lead two scores again, NHS marched 79 yards on 13 plays near the end of third quarter. But on fourth and goal from the 1, Horton was tripped up in the backfield by Jenks defensive back Tristen Quillen. Horton didn't have a bad night, completing 11 of 31 for 152 yards with a touchdown and an interception through the air and rushing for 97 yards on 16 carries with a score, but the offense's one blemish was not finishing drives.
“Offensively the last two weeks, we've been playing the way we're capable of playing,” “We came up big in certain parts of the game, and we still have to clean up some things.”
NHS running back Joe Willie rushed for 113 yards on 15 carries, and receiver Andrew Young had five catches for 103 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown grab with 52 seconds left, the game's final score.
As if to prove they were emboldened by how they had played, the Tigers forced a fumble with five seconds left, as Jenks tried to run the ball instead of running out the clock. If Horton had found Harvey Cooper, who made an incredible one-handed grab earlier in the game, in the back of the end zone at the buzzer, NHS could have gone for two to pull within 14 points.
It would have been the first time since 2011 that a west-side team has even taken a district point away from Jenks.
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