EDMOND — Norman's Jakcob Dean gingerly stood up from his spot on one knee, and slowly turned to walk, hobbling a few steps before reporters stopped him to talk about the Tigers' 28-14 upset of No. 6 Edmond Santa Fe on Friday night at Central Oklahoma's Wantland Stadium.
The conversation quickly turned to the senior quarterback's heavily taped right ankle, which he appeared to injure in the second half. It caused him to miss a couple of plays and left him visibly limping the rest of the game.
“I'm not hurt at all,” Dean said of the limp. “You gotta walk with some swagger.”
No subtle wink. No joking smile. Just a stone-faced stare.
“I could go another four quarters right now,” he added.
The pain in his bum ankle, real or not, was irrelevant to him. He and the Tigers had pulled off their biggest win of the season at the most crucial of times. Knowing one loss likely would end their playoff chances, the Tigers stopped Edmond Santa Fe's potent offense and found ways to churn out yardage with a banged-up offense.
Beyond Dean's ankle, the Tigers came into the night without their top two running backs, and third-string sophomore Ty Smith left the game after pounding out 71 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. By the end of the night, the Tigers were handing the ball to freshman Diante Defreeze in crucial situations to put the game away.
“That just shows what kind of heart we have, what kind of team we are,” Dean said. “We dropped some games, but we know it's nothing we can't fix. It's all a matter of want-to, and we have the will on this team. I'm proud of us.”
Dean rushed for 108 yards on just 11 carries, and threw for 46 with a pair of touchdowns.
Yet it was the Tiger defense that set the tone early. With Santa Fe sophomore quarterback Keaton Torre making his first career start following the ankle injury suffered by starter and Oklahoma commit Justice Hansen last week, Norman attacked from the start.
The Tigers recorded six quarterback sacks, all in the first half, and the front four, consisting of Cade Parker, Anthony Grimes, Nick Webb and Josh McGill, pressured Torre all night. He threw for 216 yards on 17-of-31 passing, but the Wolves could rarely keep drives sustained.
“Our defensive front came hard all night,” Norman coach Greg Nation said. “They did a super job. We held a very good football team to 14 points.
“These guys had to suck it up, and they knew they did. We're pretty beat up right now, and we just mentally overcame the injuries.”
For playoff purposes, Edmond Santa Fe has some work left, now at 5-3 overall and 3-2 in District 6A-4. Wins by Mustang and Southmoore on Friday night kept Norman (4-4, 2-3) out of the top four spots for now. With Putnam City West and Lawton left on the schedule, the Tigers know one loss will likely end their postseason hopes.
“This was a big win, because it puts us in a better spot than we were,” Dean said. “But the monkey's not off our back. We have to win out. We dug ourselves in this hole, so we have to dig ourselves out of it.”