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Norman High Football: Tigers get away with victory at the (very) end

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NHS-Enid pic

Norman High quarterback Tias McClarty escapes Enid’s Chris Beard on Friday at D. Bruce Selby Stadium.

ENID — How bad was it going for Norman High inside D. Bruce Selby Stadium Friday night?

Well, first drive of the fourth quarter, after gaining a single first down in the third, the Tigers dialed up a double pass. One backward to Edric Lambert and one forward from Lambert.

Going nowhere, they turned to trickery.

Enid bought none of it, Erik Lewis picked it off and the Plainsmen were in business, leading by five points with 10:22 remaining.

Didn’t matter

It was the fourth quarter.

Good things happen to NHS in the fourth quarter.

The Tigers would go nowhere again, but their defense just kept giving their offense back the ball and finally something clicked.

The game-winning touchdown belonged to quarterback Tias McClarty, who ran left, broke a tackle and dragged a defender into the end zone with 2:11 remaining.

His two-point pass to Cooper Alexander forged the final score, 22-19, though the Tigers would have been fine it hadn’t.

After taking the lead on a an 8-yard touchdown run from Luke Rauh with 2:58 remaining in the third quarter, the Plainsmen, given their penalties, only went backward the remainder of the game.

The ending was shocking, given the Tigers’ offensive struggles. They drove 63 yards their first possession of the game for a touchdown and 72 their second, also for a score.

Yet, until their final drive, the best they’d done since was a 33-yard field-goal attempt from Colyn Wade that clanked off the left upright.

McClarty had a feeling things were about to change when NHS got the ball back their own 16-yard line with 4:29 remaining.

“That last drive, oh, my gosh, I saw the look in people’s eyes,” McClarty said. “The adrenaline started rushing, eyes opened up wider than they should be.

“That’s all there is to it.”

Xavier Shackelford ran for 7 yards, then McClarty found Lambert for a catch and run of 56, then Shackelford ran for another 2 and, pulled down by his facemask, the Tigers inherited first-and-goal at the 10.

Shackelford ran for nothing on the next snap, but McClarty faked to him on the next one and took it in himself and the Tigers had yet again turned the fourth quarter into a victory parade.

“They’ve got some good athletes,” NHS coach Rocky Martin said. “They made us work for it.”

The reason the game remained to be won was the Tiger defense.

The last big play belonged to Lance Eubanks, who rocked Enid quarterback Bennett Percival as he released the ball, facing fourth-and-6 in the final minute at his own 32.

The throw sailed and NHS took two knees and it was over.

“I just brought them out here in the second half, told them to give it their all,” said senior linebacker Andre McCoy, sounding more like a coach than a player. “Come out here like this was our field.”

The defense did its job.

The offense finally did its, too.

McClarty had all three touchdowns, the first two on runs of 3 and 67 yards, and finished with 151 on 21 carries. His five completions counted for 107. Between them, Devin Alexander and Shackelford carried 18 times for 78 yards.

Enid topped out at 230 yards of total offense.

While Enid fell to 3-5 and 1-4 in District 6AI-1, the Tigers improved to 4-4 and 3-2, with home games remaining against Broken Arrow and Edmond Santa Fe.

The playoffs are near.

Friday, the Tigers got closer.

Clay Horning

405 366-3526

Follow me @clayhorning

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