Mustang players slowly trudged off Harve Collins Field. Obviously crushed, some had tears in their eyes.

They walked past Norman North, still huddled together. It was hard to tell who was more disappointed.

“We did not play well at all,” North’s Beau Blankenship said.

Still, the Timberwolves’ perfect mark in the district is still intact. North prevailed 24-21 Thursday, but had to sweat out a wild finish.

The Timberwolves (6-1, 4-0) looked dominant early, jumping out to a 17-0 lead midway through the first half. But behind quarterback Kyle Webster and running back Hunter Smith, the Broncos stormed back.

It was 24-7 after Jake Damrill sneaked in from 1-yard out with 2:54 remaining in the third quarter.

But two minutes later, Smith answered with a 57-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 24-14.

North struggled in the fourth quarter. Blankenship rushed for a game-high 238 yards on 44 attempts, but was held to just 44 in the final quarter. North, trying to run out the clock, had to give the ball up with 35 seconds remaining. That was enough time for the Broncos.

Webster hit Smith for 18 yards to the North 47, then he ripped off a 22-yard run to the 25. On the next play, Webster bobbled a shotgun snap, avoided the rush and found Nick Cartwright in the corner for a score with three seconds left to cut the lead to 24-21.

Bryce Deemer stopped the comeback by catching a high onside kick to end the game.

Mustang dropped to 0-3 and 1-5.

“We had great practices this week and we thought we were going to play,” Blankenship said. “We played hard, but we need to get better.”

The Broncos had no answer for Blankenship early. On the second play of the game, he weaved his way for a 75-yard gain, then scored two plays later from four yards out for the game’s first score.

Early in the second period, he scored on an 18-yard run to make it 14-0. He had 129 yards in the first quarter.

Bryce Easley added a 33-yard field with 8:08 remaining in the half to increase North’s lead to 17-0.

Even though Mustang has struggled this year, North was expecting a tough game. Mustang’s furious comeback took some of the luster off the win, but the bottom line is North won.

“I’ve been telling people all week that Mustang was a good football team. They played hard,” North coach Lance Manning said. “But we don’t always handle adversity well. We still haven’t played our best football.

“Still, we’re 4-0 in the district and 6-1 overall. It could be a lot worse.”

Scott Moore

366-3535

sports@normantranscript.com

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