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Norman North clinches spot in 6A playoffs with win over Edmond Memorial

BY TRENT SHADID, For the Oklahoman Modified: October 29, 2011 at 12:18 am •  Published: October 28, 2011

NORMAN — It was a special night for Norman North senior offensive lineman Riley Nolan. Not only was it the last regular-season home game for the seniors, but the Timberwolves clinched a spot in the Class 6A football playoffs with a 52-14 win over Edmond Memorial at Harve Collins Field.

“This is a huge moment for all of us,” Nolan said after Norman North improved to 6-3. “I told the guys all week that this night isn't just about Senior Night, it's about Timberwolves night.”

After a slow start offensively, the Timberwolves received a spark from junior running back Bryan Payne with a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown midway through the first quarter.

Payne struck again late in the first half with a 37-yard touchdown run to put the Timberwolves up, 21-0. That was all the scoring they needed thanks to a smothering defensive effort that kept Edmond Memorial offense in check for much of the night.

Norman North has won four straight district games, a winning streak that started after a 33-0 loss to Yukon in Week 5. Junior defensive end Justin Martin described that loss as a learning experience.

“That loss to Yukon taught us that we really need to start focusing more in the film room and on the practice field,” Martin said. “We've done that now, and as a result, we are playing better football.”

Norman North now shifts its focus to the final regular season game next Friday at top-ranked Midwest City. A win over the Bombers, and the Timberwolves could win the District 6A-1 title.

Edmond Memorial has its regular season finale next Friday when it hosts Yukon at Wantland Stadium.