NOBLE — The Bears and their coach, Greg George, must hope they never again endure a final 160 seconds of any first half like they endured the final 160 seconds of Friday’s.
They probably won’t.
Once, though, is plenty.
A defensive battle deep into the second quarter, Noble’s best made plans imploded when Midwest City managed to put three touchdowns on the board in the waning moments of the first half, only one of them provided by its offense.
It was the most important — and perhaps the only important — spell of the game, one that ended with Midwest City on top 40-7.
If the Bears left feeling it could have been an entirely different game, they might be right.
Neither team having gone much of anywhere over the game’s first 11 minutes, Noble appeared to get on the board first when Brandon Harper took a screen pass near the right boundary, made about half the Bomber defense miss, and finished with what appeared to be a 64-yard touchdown.
Instead, a holding call brought it back and Midwest City wound up striking first when Davion Franklin went 8 yards on the ground, capping the Bombers opening drive of the second quarter.
The two teams’ next seven collective possessions went nowhere. Yet, because both teams were throwing the ball, and typically incomplete, the clock hardly moved.
Then, it happened.
It wasn’t pretty.
A shanked punt of 6 yards gave Midwest City the ball at the Noble 41. A DeAngelo Irvin pass to Makale Smith spanned 40 yards before Kristawn Friday went in from a yard for the score. The Bombers went for two and got it on an Irvin scramble and it was 14-0.
After a round of incompletions deep in its own territory, Noble was punting again when Colin Fisher — also the Bears quarterback in the wake of Chili Lorenz falling ill — couldn’t handle a difficult snap and Smith fell on the ball in the end zone. A second botched Bomber point after left the score 20-0.
Given the ball back on their own 18 1:17 before the half, Noble tried to make something happen, a decision that included Fisher, though he couldn’t reach the end zone, throwing deep over the middle from his own 46 on the half's final play. Midwest City’s Juwan Dancy stepped in front of it near his own 20 and, behind a wall of defenders-turned-blockers, took it all the way back.
What should have been a one- or two-touchdown deficit at the halfway point was quickly a four-touchdown deficit.
It was never going to be easy for Bears, who beyond losing Lorenz, were once again without running back Colin Thomas, who suffered a lower-body injury days before an opening night victory over Blanchard.
Tavyan Givens, in for Thomas, ran 17 times, 13 for 3 or fewer yards and the other four for a collective 30.
Fisher was solid early, completing four of his first five tosses for 34 yards, but just two of his next 10 as the Bears and the game clock hardly moved in the second quarter.
What happened to close the first half carried into the third quarter, as Midwest City went 72 yards in eight snaps, pushing its edge to 33-0.
Friday, who finished with 105 yards on eight carries, added the Bombers final score from 4 yards with 9:03 remaining.
Finally, Noble answered, getting a 54-yard kick return from Trevor Wardrip, a 23-yard hook-up between Fisher and Cayden Dominey and, eventually, a 2-yard scoring toss to Harper.
Noble entered ranked No. 7 in Class 5A. Midwest City entered No. 5 in Class 6A-II.
For a while, the Bears were right there.
Until they weren’t.