By Chuck Reherman
NORMAN – There was a feeling of “déjà vu” of the 2017 game between Yukon and Norman North at Harve Collins Stadium Friday night.
The Millers made some early mistakes that led to an early Norman North lead. But just like that 2017 game, the Millers found a way to bounce back and knocked off the Timberwolves for the second straight time in Norman, 41-24.
Yukon trailed by 10, 17-7 in the second quarter when the team made that comeback run. The Millers used a break-out night from B back Tristan Brooke, who ran for three touchdowns in the second half (four on the night) and the Miller defense held the Timberwolves to only one score in the final 24-minutes to give the Millers the win.
It was YHS head coach Jeremy Reed’s second “upset” win over the Timberwolves in a row and is 2-0 all-time against NNHS. Norman North was ranked No. 8 coming into the game and the Millers No. 10.
The Millers, after the early mistakes, settled in and used a bruising ground game that rolled up 47 yards of offense. Brooke had 115 of those with his four touchdown runs.
“We seem to have bad starts everytime we play on this field and we have to get that out of the way,” said Reed, whose team will make a return to Norman on Friday to open the district 6A-1 season with Norman High School. “How we played tonight depends on what moment you look at. Early on it was pretty rough, but we settled in midway in the second quarter and the second half we came back and played pretty solid.
“Norman North was doing some things to take away the running game on the perimeter option game and things like that, so we had to be very patient,” he said. “We had to do some things we hadn’t had to do in the first two weeks with that B back game. So, it was really nice to see our O-line take control and those B backs rolled through there and picked up some chunk yardage.
“After we fell behind in the first quarter it was more getting the kids settled in, getting their eyes right and making sure they were playing with the right technique on the particular front or blitz or coverages called.”
Trailing 17-13 and with the ball to open the second half, the Millers went to more of their inside game and Brooke responded with a 30-yard touchdown run on his second carry of the half. The Millers also used a 21-yard run by Makari Slaughter in a five-play, 59-yard drive to take a 20-17 lead with 9:22 left in the third.
Brooke scored his third touchdown of the game on the Millers’ next possession, scoring from nine-yards out that capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive. The score, all on the ground. Slaughter helped set up the score with runs of 22 and 19 yards.
Norman North did come back to make it a 27-24 game with 11:32 remaining in the game. But, the Millers used a 68-yard kickoff return from Slaughter to the Norman North 17 and the Millers punched it in from there with Brooke scoring his third of the half on a six-yard run to open a 34-24 lead with 9:41 remaining.
“Tristan has been a kid that has been in our program for four years and had bide his team to get to this point and it was really fun to get to see him have such a good night,” Reed said. “He is a kid that has played multiple positions over those years and to see him take the lead for us and be a great senior leader was a really rewarding night.
Brooke finished the night with 115 yards on 13 carries, while the Millers used two other B backs, Joe Wythe, who ran for 95 yards on 16 carries and Tayvon Ware, who had 59 on six rushes.
“We just talked about settling in and playing out style of ball,” Reed said. “The turnover was unfortunate, they just popped it out of Caden (Hernandez) hand on that kickoff and that obviously was a big moment. It was good to hold them to 10 instead of 14, but it was really just more of it’s early in the game and we have a lot of game left.
“We were calling the game like it was being presented to us,” he said. “It doesn’t (Hernandez’s injury) help our situation with trying to get on the edge. That was obviously a very big hit to our offense. The O-line and the B backs did a phenomenal job.
“It was a weird night, it felt weird all night. I thought Norman North got tired in the second half and we were able to wear on the them and use the benefit of being able to lean on them a little bit and taking advantage of them being tired.”
The Millers, trailing 10-0 in the first, did but the lead to 10-7 on a four-yard run from Brooke and then used a Brayden Dutton six-yard run in the second quarter to make it 17-13 with 4:02 left in the half.
Yukon finished with night with 417 yards of offense, all on the ground, while the defense half Norman North to 155 yards rushing on 36 carries and 68 yards through the air one five on nine passes with one interception. The defense forced two turnovers in the game and have five takeways in the last two.
“I thought our defense responded well after that first quarter,” defensive coordinator Craig Hubbard said. “We still have to work on tackling as it was pretty obvious tonight. But what I was proud of is they wound up in the some bad positions, whether it be from a turnover, bad field position or something they did to themselves and they ended up responding.
“Norman North had the one score in the second half, credit Norman North, they played well, but some of that we did to ourselves,” he said. “But other than that one drive, we put the clamps on them. We were nervous about their runningbacks, they are both one cut backs that can stick in the ground and go.
“Our defense is starting to settle in. We have a long ways to go, but they are settling in and playing more comfortable and confident. Tonight, we learned more on how to play from behind, winning from behind should boost their confidence even more. I am extremely happy that we have forced five turnovers in the last two games.”