EDMOND — Seven weeks into the season, it looks like we've come all the way back around to where we started. Back to the place where Edmond Santa Fe looks like the west side's best Class 6A football team, the best hope to take down one of the big boys from the east.
Edmond Santa Fe quarterback Justice Hansen threw four touchdown passes and ran for three more as the sixth-ranked Wolves dismantled No. 9-ranked Lawton 68-28 Thursday night at Wantland Stadium.
The Wolves (6-1 overall, 4-0 district) slid down the rankings after an ugly loss to Edmond North in the third week of the season. But Thursday's victory was the statement the Wolves needed to remind everyone why they were so highly regarded before the year.
“We needed this,” senior Phillip Sumpter said. “I think it's a big confidence booster, and we know we can get the job done. We did it against a very good team, and we can get the job done against anybody.”
While Norman North was busy with an impactful 49-27 win over No. 4-ranked Edmond North on Thursday night, Santa Fe was playing its most complete game of the season in the eyes of Wolves coach Lance Manning.
“It's really good to see us play in unison on offense and defense, complementing one another and executing that well,” Manning said. “We've been frustrated all year with the points we've been giving up. We've been waiting for the time when we come out and play like this defensively.”
With Lawton riddled by injuries to its starting quarterback and top two receivers, Santa Fe saw its opportunity to attack.
After a couple of early hiccups trying to stop Lawton's 265-pound running back, Ivan Thomas, the Wolves clamped down, allowing only one first down in the second and third quarters. Lawton didn't have an offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter, when the game was already in hand.
“I feel like this was the best defense we've played the whole year,” said safety Khari Harding. “This was big, because we feel like we're one of the best out there.”
Manning said he was worried about Lawton gaining momentum after a couple of fourth-quarter touchdowns. Trying to protect the maximum 15 district points his team would gain on margin of victory, Manning reinserted his first-team offense after Lawton tried an onside kick with a little more than five minutes to play. Still, it would have taken at least three more Lawton scores to cut into Santa Fe's district points.
Hansen took the team 55 yards in three plays for the final TD.
“You've got to protect your team and what you're doing,” Manning said. “We've got our JV out there, and if things get out of control, it can go back the other way in a hurry. I just wanted to get out there and get another score. We had our JV in there, and I expected them to start subbing, and we could get the clock run out, but that's not what happened.”
Hansen was sharp from the opening drive, when he hurdled a defender on his way to a 26-yard TD run. He finished with 104 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while throwing for 286 yards and four TDs.
“We've had our ups and downs this season,” Hansen said. “It was nice to come out here and put together a real solid game all the way through.”