MOORE — In the days of wide-open offenses and high-scoring games, the goal-line stand seems like an archaic idea of football past. And when a team executes one now, especially in a crucial situation, the impact is enormous.
Norman's goal-line stand late in the third quarter — stopping Southmoore on third- and fourth-down plays from the 1-yard line — was arguably the signature moment of Greg Nation's five seasons as Norman's head coach, and the defining moment in the Tigers' 41-28 win Friday night at Moore Stadium.
“That right there was what I wanted to instill from the time we got here,” Nation said. “It's Tiger football. There are some places, when people walk in to play football, they're six points behind, because they know your defense is gonna come play.
“That goal-line stand marked what we've been trying to build in these guys for five years, and it took hold tonight.”
Southmoore managed to move the ball well, gaining 450 total yards, but scoring was a different story. The Tigers' old-school defensive attitude showed up at key times to turn Southmoore away.
“We knew they were gonna come out strong, and we've been preparing all week to stop that offense,” said Norman junior defensive tackle Cade Parker. “That goal-line stand was a game-changer. It definitely brought the momentum back to our side.
“That's what Coach Nation has been trying to put in this defense — don't quit when you get inside the 20, just don't stop, no matter where you are on the field.”
It was the Tiger offense that controlled the first half, hitting Southmoore with big plays, not hiding the fact that they had no intention of throwing the ball.
Norman threw three passes all game, but it piled up 377 rushing yards, 258 of which came in the first half. A'erion Hines rushed 12 times for 183 yards and four touchdowns, while Imond Robinson added 143 yards and a TD.
“Our offensive line did one heck of a job blocking,” Hines said. “Southmoore is a phenomenal team, so we knew we had to bring our A game. We know they can score anytime, so my objective was to just do what I can do.”
Hines said the defense's goal-line stand boosted the offense as well.
“It took us a long time to score in the second half, and that gave us new energy,” he said. “It gave us the energy to put another touchdown on the board.”
Nation told his team to enjoy Friday's victory, but many players had already begun thinking about the next big task at hand, sixth-ranked Edmond Santa Fe. The Wolves (6-1 overall, 4-0 district) visit Norman (6-1, 4-0) next Friday for a clash of District 6A-4's top-two teams.
“We've got to keep preparing hard for each game. Edmond Santa Fe will be another big game,” Parker said. “We feel real good after this one, a lot of momentum. But we've got to keep it going.”