EDMOND — For three weeks, Southmoore had all the answers. No matter the problem or opponent it had found a way to respond with a victory.
That came to an end Thursday when the eighth-ranked SaberCats faced off with No. 7 Edmond Santa Fe. In a matchup of two of the state’s most explosive teams, the Wolves prevailed 53-37 at Wantland Stadium when they were unable to watch Santa Fe’s intensity for a full 48 minutes.
“When they saw us down, they just straight punched us and kept going,” Southmoore’s Karltrell Henderson said. “We need to come harder and be more focused. We have a problem with doubting when somebody is up on us. We have problems with doubting each other. We just need to stay more focused.”
The SaberCats (3-1, 0-1 District 6A-4) knew they would face a tough challenge in the Wolves (3-1, 1-0), but they never imagined they would allow 53 points.
But when a team turns the ball over as many times as the SaberCats did, tight games can turn into routs. Southmoore was intercepted three times and lost a fumble.
“I felt like we competed very well,” Southmoore’s Spencer Martin said. “They are a really great team. We had way too many turnovers. That’s a big issue. When you are playing a great team, you have to play great.”
Santa Fe struck first and fast. Felix Depona’s 47-yard touchdown run in the first quarter put the SaberCats behind early. After two Justice Hansen touchdowns passes, the Wolves led 20-0 heading into the second quarter. Hansen threw and ran for seven touchdowns and totaled 376 yards of total offense.
For the first time this season, the SaberCats were dealing with a team that had just as many, if not more, terrific athletes on its roster. It took Southmoore the entire first quarter of getting punched in the mouth to figure this out.
Johnathan Martin ignited the SaberCats offense with a 35-yard punt return in the second quarter. It set up a bruising 7-yard Henderson touchdown run in which he trampled a Wolves’ defender to get over the goal line.
Henderson scored once again before Tre Edwards and Jalen Adams hooked up for a 35-yard touchdown pass. The Cats trimmed the Wolves lead to 20-18. If not for three failed two-point conversions, Southmoore would’ve had the lead heading into halftime.
“We are a second-quarter team,” Henderson said. “It takes us a minute to get into the game. They just came out full throttle the whole game.”
The SaberCats opened the third quarter with Tyler Painter blocking a Santa Fe 33-yard field goal attempt. It was the senior’s third block of the season.
Four plays later, Edwards connected with Adams on a 48-yard touchdown pass. Adams faked his defender and was all alone, running down the sideline for the easy score. Cats took its first lead at 24-20.
However, the lead didn’t last long. On the ensuing drive, Hansen put the Wolves back on top with a 13-yard TD run. One of Edwards’ three interceptions then led to another Wolves’ score.
The teams exchanged touchdowns and Edmond Santa Fe had a 40-31 advantage going into the fourth quarter. Southmoore tried to respond with another scoring drive, but Henderson was stopped on a fourth-and-2 and the ball was turned over to the Wolves.
That was all the opening Hansen needed. The junior drove his team down for another touchdown to give the Wolves a 15-point lead and put the game away.
“People started getting tired, getting lazy,” Martin said. “It came back to bite us in the butt. It is what it is. We have to go watch film, come back and do better next week.”
The SaberCats are back at work Friday when they host Putnam City West, which lost to Choctaw 38-20 last week. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m. at Moore Stadium.