MIDWEST CITY — Noble’s defense had done its part, forcing three 3-and-outs on three possessions to keep its hopes for a road upset alive. But a fourth straight stop was a bit too much to ask.
Facing 3rd-and-4 with 2:52 to play, Midwest City quarterback DeAngelo Irvin cut upfield for a seven-yard gain. Two plays later, the Bombers ran for another first down, this one the clincher.
Midwest City edged Noble, 14-12, Friday night, getting just enough big plays at big moments to deny the Bears (1-1) an upset.
Still, it was a significant change from last year’s meeting between the two teams, which the Bombers won 40-7.
“Proud of our kids going up against a really good football team from Class 6A-II,” said Noble coach Greg George. “We competed for four quarters. We’re getting better.”
Noble leaned heavily on the passing game, as junior quarterback Colin Fisher completed 22 of his 39 passes for 254 yards and two scores. His biggest beneficiaries were senior Trevor Wardrip (seven catches, 123 yards) and junior Brandon Harper (9 catches, 85 yards, one touchdown).
The Bears have long been a pass-heavy team, but the matchup against Midwest City (2-1) and its physical front seven in particular necessitated a strong aerial attack. For the most part, they brought one.
“They probably average 300 (pounds) across the front and they’re hard to move,” George said. “ ... We’re probably going to throw the ball more than we run in games … but understand the opponent we’re playing against. They’re fast and they’re big. You gotta take what you can.”
This meant a lot of passes towards the sidelines and many plays in which Fisher was on the move, looking to make a throw on the run. That’s how Noble scored its first touchdown: Fisher danced in the pocket and hit senior Cayden Dominey on a 3rd-and-long, and Dominey ran untouched into the end zone.
Both Fisher’s arm and legs were on display once again on the Bears’ second touchdown drive, which answered a Midwest City score that made it 14-6 in the third quarter. Fisher rolled out and completed a long third-down pass to Wardrip before scrambling for another 20 yards. Then he hit Harper over the middle for a 12-yard score.
This left it up to Noble’s defense to slow the Bombers and Irvin, their dynamic junior quarterback.
“You just try to get people running to the football,” George said. “They’re an option team, so you gotta play your responsibility, play your keys and everybody’s gotta do their job.”
Most of the night, the Bears were up to the task. They gained more yards and first downs than Midwest City and rarely let Irvin break contain — with a few notable exceptions.
There was Irvin’s 29-yard touchdown to Alon Woodberry on the game’s first drive, where he evaded a rusher and lofted a rainbow to the end zone. There was midway through the third quarter when Irvin kept it on the option and cut through the teeth of the Noble defense for six.
“There were a few times (Irvin) got away,” George said. “He’s a great athlete, they’re a great football team and hats off to them.”
Ultimately, despite a much-improved performance from a year ago, it was little things in big moments that separated the Bears from one of Class 6A’s best. A missed extra point after their first touchdown set the Bears back, and a failed two-point conversion after their second prevented them from tying the game. Last but not least, the crucial final third-down play that Midwest City converted to help seal the game.
“Just a teachable moment,” George said. “... The little things that you need to be successful, you gotta do those every day. Hopefully they’re buying in and seeing that.”
Noble will host Piedmont in its home opener next week.