OWASSO — The top-ranked team in Class 6AI had an inauspicious start to the postseason but more than made up for it on Friday night.
Owasso fell behind early then scored the final 36 points of the first half and pulled away for a 52-14 win over No. 7 Norman in a quarterfinal game at Owasso Stadium.
Cole Dugger, who set the school’s single season record for touchdown passes, threw for 214 yards and four scores. Cole Adams and Mario Kirby each scored twice as Owasso (11-0) advanced to face defending champion No. 5 Broken Arrow (9-2) in the semifinals for a second consecutive season.
“We lost to them last year,” said Kirby, referring to Broken Arrow’s 10-7 win last year. “I don’t want that to happen again.”
The Ram defense, which forced four turnovers, helped the offense overcome a slow start after Norman scored twice within an 88-second span and led 14-6 midway through the first quarter. The upset-minded Tigers looked like they might add to that advantage after Cole Powers picked off Dugger, just his second interception of the season. Moments later Omarr Barker intercepted Caleb Horton and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown. Payton Lusk caught a two-point conversion as Owasso tied the game at 14-14.
“The minute we got tied back up, it felt like everything switched,” Owasso coach Bill Blankenship said.
Owasso held Norman to 139 yards.
Brenden Dye recovered the ensuing kickoff at the Norman 37. Kirby dragged defenders for a 29-yard catch and run, then scored on a 1-yard plunge two plays later as Owasso took a 21-14 lead with 11:31 left in the second quarter.
Norman’s next series ended when Dye caught a pass deflected by cornerback Duece Mayberry. Three plays later, Dugger’s play-action pass resulted in a 25-yard TD to Kirby.
“Down 14-6, the turnovers turned the whole game around,” Dye said. “It helps a lot.”
With the game slipping away, the Tigers were unable to execute a fake punt on their ensuing possession and gave Owasso possession at the Norman 48-yard line. Ronnie Thomas accounted for 35 yards on the next Ram series, capped by a scoring catch from 14 yards out.
Owasso finished off a 28-point second quarter with a touchdown on the final play of the half. With six seconds remaining and possession at the 50, Dugger found Adams at the 25. The Ram freshman, aided by a block from Kelan Carney, outran the rest of the Tiger defenders to the endzone.
It marked Dugger’s 36th touchdown pass on the season, which surpassed the previous mark of 35 held by Paul Smith in 2002.
“We have the ability to explode,” Blankenship said. “We had stumbled around a bit offensively early and they made plays, but we figured it out.”
Horton, the OU baseball and football commit, completed 4-of-13 passes for 73 yards with two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions as he was hobbled by a previous ankle injury and sat out the entire second half.
“I wish we had an opportunity to see him at his best,” Blankenship said. “When I say that, I didn’t want him to beat us, but by the same token, I know they’re not the same team with him not at full strength.”
Carney capped Owasso’s scoring with a 13-yard TD from Dugger on the first series of the third quarter.