Special to The Sun
Edmond Sante Fe got another taste of life without Justice Hansen Friday night as the Norman Tigers pulled off a stunning 28-14 upset at Wantland Stadium. Hansen was injured last week in the loss to Lawton but could possibly return for the playoffs.
The loss dropped the Wolves to 5-3 for the season and 3-2 in District play with the final chapter of Edlam scheduled Friday night at Wantland Stadium against Edmond Memorial.
The Wolves’ offense struggled all night long with a non-existant ground game and a backup quarterback scrambling much of the game. Senior wideout Malik Earl was brilliant for Santa Fe as he hauled in seven passses for 124 yards.
On the Wolves’ first possession of the game, Santa Fe could manage only a minus-23 yards and were three-and-out on the next try to set up the first Norman score. The Tigers took a punt at midfield and ate up nearly seven minutes on the clock going the distance in nine plays. Big play on the drive was a 20-yard run by Ty Smith, who also got the final yard for the touchdown at the 4:51 mark of the first quarter.
Back-to-back defensive gems by Austin Mack and Hayden Bell forced a Norman punt from its own six early in the second period. From the Norman 41, Torre lofted a pass down the right sideline that Earl stretched his 6-1 frame to the highest point and pulled the ball down between two defenders at the Norman eight.
But, alas, a yellow flag signalled an ineligible player downfield and the drive stalled.
Chase Hillman, Garrett Russell and Ken Harris teamed up to dump Smith for no gain on a third-and-one to force a punt with just 2:04 left on the halftime clock.
From the 42, Torre found Cameron Westbrook for six yards and Ryan Sanderson sprung for eight more for a first down. After a two-yard loss, Torre scrambled out of danger and found Sanderson open for an 18-yard gain to the 30 with 46 seconds left on the clock.
Things looked grim when an incomplete pass was followed by a 10-yard sack with 31 seconds left on the clock. The play of the game came next as Earl duplicated his earlier feat, only jumping higher to snag the ball and run another 10 yards before being pulled down at the four-yard line with 25 seconds left.
Santa Fe called a timeout after Torre lost a yard on first down. Lining up with all the receivers on the left and Earl running a crossing pattern from the right slot, Torre took the snap, took three steps and optioned to Michael Farmer who walked untouched into the end zone to tie the score at 7-all after Edward Smith toed the PAT.
The Wolves began the second half on a promising note as Farmer picked up a first down with a 15-yard scamper and Torre followed with a 15-yard completion to Earl, but on fourth-and-five at the 35, a pass to Sanderson came up a few inches short, according to the spot.
Meanwhile, Norman was scoring on back-to-back possessions to take a 21-7 lead after three quarters and punched in the backbreaker with 1:57 left in the contest on a seven-yard pass from Jacob Dean to Cal Schone.
But the scrappy Wolves didn’t quit, taking the short kickoff and returning it to the 49 and then getting a pass interference penalty to advancee it to the 31.
On third-and-10, Torre found Westbrook cutting across the middle and pitched a perfect strike for the 31-yard TD. Smith added the PAT but Norman then ran off four minutes before missing a field goal that would have given them the maximum tie-breaker 15 points within the district.