It was a rough first half of the football season for El Reno, with the Indians having lost four straight entering Friday's game against Northwest Classen. But they took the first step toward righting the ship with a workmanlike 23-7 win at Taft Stadium.
El Reno (2-4, 1-2 District 5A-2) didn't win so much with offense — the Indians managed only 182 total yards — but with defense and special teams. The Indians limited Northwest (4-2, 2-1) to 49 yards of offense and four first downs and blocked or partially blocked three punts.
El Reno's Cal Baker completed 11 of 12 passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns, both to Justin Brown, and intercepted two passes on defense.
“Overall, the kids were ready to play and focused and really did a great job of executing in the first half,” El Reno coach Shawn Mason said. “It was a good night, as long as you come out with a win and keep your goals alive and keep playing and move on.
“If you want to make the playoffs, you've got to win from here on out. You've got to get four out of five games and do your thing.”
Northwest was off to the program's best start since 1971, but the Knights — playing without their usual starting quarterback, Jalen Harris — struggled to find any flow offensively.
Harris' replacement, Corbin Richardson, completed 2-of-6 passes for 19 yards and was picked off twice, and the Knights leaned heavily on running back Lorenzo Alexander, who carried 22 times for 44 yards and scored Northwest's only touchdown. Richardson had 14 carries but netted minus-13 yards.
El Reno took over at the Northwest 26 after the first tipped punt following the Knights' first offensive series and quickly scored on a 27-yard scamper by running back Donnie Everheart. El Reno's Mason Archer blocked a punt later in the first quarter, leading to a 29-yard field goal by Tyler Hughey.
Baker's first interception came at the Indians' 32 in the second quarter. On offense, he later completed a six-play scoring drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Brown, putting the Indians up 17-0. Those two connected again during El Reno's first second-half series on a 7-yard touchdown pass.
A 40-yard punt return by Fre'Darian Ashley to the El Reno 11 set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Richardson with 6:19 left.