“It's a good thing we believe (special teams) are a third of the game because that's why we were ahead at halftime,” Santa Fe coach Lance Manning said. “It wasn't because we were getting after them on offense and defense.”
Putnam North closed to 21-12 on the Panthers' opening possession of the third quarter when Simon hit Butler, who had 103 yards receiving in the game, on 35-yard touchdown pass.
Then Hansen made the biggest play of the game for the Wolves on their next possession. Facing third-and-5 at the Wolves 40 and a possible shift in momentum, the junior quarterback made a 59-yard scramble to the Panthers 1.
“That's typical of Justice to make a play like that when we needed it,” Manning said.
Smith scored his second touchdown of the game two plays later on a 3-yard scoring toss from Hansen.
Any hopes the Panthers had of pulling off the huge upset disappeared on the next two series. Putnam North drove to the Wolves 23, but Butler was stopped short of a first down on fourth-and-3 by Santa Fe defensive back Roosevelt Turner.
The Wolves then marched 77 yards in eight plays, capped off by Sumpter's 2-yard touchdown run and the outcome was no longer in doubt.
“I thought we were in it,” Wilson said. “I thought we played really hard.”
Now, Santa Fe gets the opportunity in the quarterfinals to slay one of the giants of Oklahoma high school football.
“Certainly Santa Fe is going to have to play a great football game,” Manning said of next week's contest against Union. “I know our guys will go into that game believing we are going to win and that will be the plan.”