Norman North holds off Owasso for 6A title berth
BY KEVIN HENRY World Correspondent
Saturday, November 24, 2012
11/24/12 at 11:52 AM
Correction: A Saturday Tulsa World story incorrectly referred to the Norman North High School mascot. Norman North's mascot is Timberwolves. This story has been corrected.
For more high school football stories.Original Print Headline: Norman North holds off Owasso
Norman North's Channing Meyer estimates he was in the game for a total of four defensive plays on Friday night, but the senior made perhaps the two biggest defensive plays of the night for the Timberwolves.
On a night when Owasso and Norman North were racking up points more reminiscent of a pinball game than a high-stakes football playoff, Meyer batted down Jaylen Lowe's fourth-down pass in the end zone, stopping second-ranked Owasso's dreams of reaching the Class 6A state championship game with a 49-42 victory before a packed house at Union-Tuttle Stadium.
It will be the first-ever trip to the title game for sixth-ranked Norman North (12-1), who will face Jenks next Friday night. Owasso (9-3) fell in the semifinals for the third consecutive season.
"It's just surreal right now," Meyer said. "No one gave us a chance this season. We weren't supposed to make the playoffs, and we sure weren't supposed to make it to the championship game."
Meyer also had the only interception of the night off Lowe, with both big defensive plays coming in the fourth quarter when Norman North held Owasso scoreless after the Rams scored 42 points over the two previous quarters.
"All week long, our coaches had told us (Lowe) makes his money when he scrambles and throws on the run," Meyer said. "On that fourth-down play, we were locked in man and I just stayed with my guy."
It was a tough ending for the Owasso offense, which racked up 538 yards on the night.
"We just weren't able to score in the fourth quarter," said Owasso head coach Bill Patterson. "They caught us with too many big pass plays and, defensively, we couldn't get them off the field."
One of those big pass plays turned out to be the game-winner as Peyton Gavras hit a wide-open Jake Higginbotham for a 70-yard touchdown with 8:42 remaining to give the Timberwolves a 49-42 lead.
Gavras took a big hit on the play and did not return after that, finishing the night with 375 passing yards and five touchdowns.
Norman North seized early control of the contest thanks to Gavras. The senior signal-caller hit Bryan Payne on an 11-yard swing pass out of the backfield to give the Timberwolves a 7-0 lead with 3:34 left in the opening quarter. Then, on the first play of the second quarter, Gavras launched a deep pass to Corbin Cleveland for a 29-yard touchdown and a 14-0 advantage.
Gavras would work his magic again on Norman North's next possession, finding Higginbotham for a 38-yard scoring strike and a 21-0 lead.
While Norman North's passing offense was firing on all cylinders early, the Timberwolves defense was wreaking havoc for Owasso, holding the Rams to just four first downs through the game's first 16 minutes. After forcing an Owasso punt with 6:19 left before intermission, it appeared that the Timberwolves might put the game out of reach early. But a roughing call on the punt gave the Rams the ball back.
Lowe wasted little time with the opportunity, connecting on three of his next four passes, including a 26-yard scoring toss to Cole Neph to cut the Norman North lead to 21-7 with 6:42 remaining.
After a 72-yard touchdown return on the ensuing kickoff swelled the Norman North lead to 28-7, Lowe went back to work, leading touchdown drives on the Rams' next two possessions to trail just 28-21 at intermission.
NORMAN NORTH 49, OWASSO 42
N: Payne 11 pass from Gavras (Jones kick)
N: Cleveland 29 pass from Gavras (Jones kick)
N: Higginbotham 38 pass from Gavras (Jones kick)
O: Neph 26 pass from Lowe (Sailing kick)
N: Evans 72 kickoff return (Jones kick)
O: Lowe 5 run (Sailing kick)
O: Neph 28 pass from Lowe (Sailing kick)
O: Prealow 35 run (Sailing kick)
O: Prealow 3 run (Sailing kick)
N: Cleveland 43 pass from Gavras (Jones kick)
O: Collier 58 pass from Lowe (Sailing kick)
N: Uhles 1 run (Jones kick)
N: Higginbotham 70 pass from Gavras (Jones kick)
Norman North's Z'Quan Hogan runs past Owasso defenders on Friday. JOEY JOHNSON/For the Tulsa World
Owasso's Scottie Prealow finds a running lane during the Rams' Class 6A semifinal loss to Norman North. JOEY JOHNSON/For the Tulsa World