By Scott Hansen
EDMOND, Okla. – Welcome back, Norman North.
In a game that could have passed off as a scrimmage between two sets of Wolves donning green helmets, Norman North emphatically announced its reappearance back into the Class 6A state title discussion with a 27-10 victory over No. 5 Edmond Santa Fe on Thursday night at Edmond’s Wantland Stadium.
Unfortunately for Santa Fe, it was anything but a scrimmage. It was complete domination by the Timberwolves of Norman North.
Norman North’s no-huddle attack led by quarterback Tyler Tettleton ran 73 offensive plays for 411 total yards. Tettleton was shaky in the second half throwing three interceptions, but accounted for 237 yards for the Timberwolves.
“This was awesome,” Tettleton said. “We realized that this is the final time we will get this shot, so we needed to take advantage of it. We had been going through the motions, so we needed to step it up again.”
Running back Beau Blankenship started to look like the human pinball of old despite still smarting from a shoulder injury. The Iowa State commit rushed for 161 yards on 36 carries in the victory.
Norman North’s defense forced four turnovers, two coming off interceptions of Santa Fe quarterback Michael Hodges. Norman North held Hodges to 9-of-26 passing for 71 yards.
The Timberwolves had six possessions in the first quarter alone. Norman North got on the scoreboard with its fourth possession of the opening quarter when Tettleton caught fire. Tettleton completed all four of his passing attempts on a 6-play, 68-yard drive and capped it off with his 2-yard touchdown run. Bryce Easley booted through the point after to give Norman North a 7-0 lead with 3:09 remaining in the first quarter.
Two possessions later after Kyle Wormington intercepted Hodges at the 40-yard line, Norman North methodically drove it down into enemy territory. Blankenship carried five times for 29 yards on the drive, but the drive would sputter at the 6-yard line. Norman North would settle for three points off the foot of Easley from 23 yards out to claim a 10-0 lead with 11:01 left in the second quarter.
Norman North head coach Lance Manning would hand the Wolves the short field following a gutsy fourth down gamble. On its own 24-yard line, Norman North decided to go for the first down. Tettleton’s sneak attempt on 4th-and-1 was stymied by the Santa Fe front line, shifting the momentum towards the home team.
Santa Fe would hurt itself with a 16-yard holding penalty on 3rd-and-goal and would eventually have to settle for a Robert Edge field goal of 28 yards to cut the deficit to seven points with 6:08 remaining in the first half.
For the remainder of the first half, Norman North began to show flashes of brilliance. Following and incomplete pass and sack, Tettleton made the play of the night on 3rd-and-13 from Norman North’s 24-yard line. Tettleton eluded heavy Santa Fe pressure and found junior Nyko Symonds while scrambling to his left. Symonds reeled in a dart from Tettleton and scampered 76 yards to paydirt. Easley nailed the point after, giving Norman North a 17-3 lead with 5:26 left to play before halftime.
The Timberwolves turned Santa Fe away on a three-and-out, and went back to work on offense. On 2nd-and-8 from the 31-yard line, Tettleton drilled Hayden Dupell for a 30-yard gain down to the 1-yard line. Blankenship powered his way across the goal line to give Norman North a 24-3 lead with 3:24 left in the second quarter.
Santa Fe managed one first down on its ensuing possession and was turned away on a fake punt. The Wolves snapped it directly to Jordan Newby, but Norman North linebacker Beau Traber wasn’t fooled and snowed Newby under 2 yards short of a first down.
Norman North would drive down to the 3-yard line and would tack on a 20-yard field goal from Easley as time expired in the first half to give the Timberwolves a 27-3 halftime lead.
In the second half, Santa Fe running back Randy Ponder started to find running room through the Norman North defense. Ponder – clearly a Division I caliber athlete – rushed for 53 yards on five carries on Santa Fe’s second possession of the third quarter.
On 4th-and-5 from the 10-yard line, Hodges hit Ponder on a screen pass, but Traber sniffed it out and stuffed Ponder before the first down marker.
Norman North would embark on a 13-play drive down to the 23-yard line, but Tettleton was intercepted by Jason Denny with 4:19 left in the third stanza.
Santa Fe’s turnover would pay off. The Wolves would strike back in quick fashion thanks to 51 rushing yards on four carries by Ponder. Steven Sumpter would spell Ponder and go untouched for a 10-yard touchdown run to trim the Norman North lead to 27-10 with 2:50 remaining in the third quarter.
Santa Fe would turn it over on two more occasions in the contest and would get a heavy dose of Blankenship for the remainder of the game. Following Sumpter’s touchdown run, Blankenship would tote the pigskin 15 times for 53 yards over the next 14 plus minutes.
Ponder would finish with a game-high 179 rushing yards on 22 carries for Santa Fe, including six runs for 10 yards or more. Ponder has surpassed 1,200 yards on the ground this season for the Wolves.
Norman North (7-2, 4-2) and Santa Fe (7-2, 4-2) are tied for second behind Mustang in District 6A-1. Just as important as a much needed victory for Norman North was the fact that it claimed all 15 available district points with its 17-point margin of victory. Despite Norman North winning head-to-head, Santa Fe still has a leg-up on second place with an 11-point lead (59-48) in district points.
Mustang can clinch the District title on Friday night with a win at Del City. Del City (3-5, 2-3) is riding a two-game winning streak after upsetting Norman North and pounding Moore in Week 8. Norman North closes the regular season by hosting Lawton, a team that upset the Timberwolves on the same field last season.
Santa Fe travels to winless Moore to tune up for the playoffs. Should Santa Fe claim all 15 district points against the Lions, the Wolves would host a first round playoff game against the third place team from District 6A-1.
Norman North 27, Edmond Santa Fe 10
Edmond Santa Fe
Norman North – Tyler Tettleton 2 run (Bryce Easley kick), 3:09, 1st Quarter
Norman North – Easley 23 field goal, 11:01, 2nd Quarter
Edmond Santa Fe – Robert Edge 28 field goal, 6:08, 2nd Quarter
Norman North – Nyko Symonds 76 pass from Tettleton (Easley kick), 5:26, 2nd Quarter
Norman North – Beau Blankenship 1 run (Easley kick), 3:24, 2nd Quarter
Norman North – Easley 20 field goal, 0:00, 2nd Quarter
Edmond Santa Fe – Steven Sumpter 10 run (Edge kick), 2:40, 3rd Quarter
Comp - Att - Int
Punts - Avg.
Fumbles - Lost
Penalties - Yards
NN: Tettleton 12-25, 203, 1 TD, 3 INT.
SF: Michael Hodges 10-27, 76, 0 TD, 2 INT.
NN: Blankenship 36-161, Tettleton 11-34, Troy Buffington 1-13.
SF: Randy Ponder 22-179, Sumpter 6-23, Jordan Newby 1-1, Hodges 1-minus-10.
NN: Symonds 2-84, Hayden Dupell 2-51, Josh Norton 3-38, Buffington 1-12, Bryce Deemer 3-11, Scott Whitaker 1-4, Blankenship 1-3.
SF: Alex Hill 3-27, Jordan Mitchell 3-27, Kevin Nowlin 1-15, Ponder 1-2, Sumpter 1-0.
- Tulsa Union head coach Kirk Fridrich was in the building to check out potential playoff counterparts from the west side of Oklahoma. Tulsa Union is expected to enter the postseason as the top-seeded team from District 6A-4.
- If you need a kicker at the Division I level, look no further than Norman North’s Easley. Easley, who kicked a 54-yard field goal this season, was 2-for-3 on the night including a miss under heavy pressure from 30 yards. Despite the miss, every single one of Easley’s kickoffs went out of the end zone. Two of them went either through or close to going through the uprights. Easley has a serious leg.
- This has absolutely nothing to do with the Norman North/Edmond Santa Fe game, but in the world of recruiting Carl Albert safety Daytawion Lowe verbally committed to Oklahoma State at a small ceremony on Thursday at Carl Albert Fieldhouse.