By Michael Kinney
The Moore American
MOORE — Jeff Brickman knew Southmoore would have its hands full with Edmond Santa Fe quarterback Justice Hansen. The Oklahoma commit had already garnered a reputation for being an elusive playmaker.
But even Brickman was surprised with the show Hansen put on Friday when the Wolves beat the SaberCats 35-24 at Moore Stadium.
“I think it really came down to their quarterback being a big time player making big time plays,” Brickman said. “Ultimately, I think that’s what decided the game. What decided the outcome.”
Hansen finished the game 10-of-22 for 179 yards passing and he rushed 16 times for 132 yards. He was responsible for all five of the Wolves’ touchdowns, including four on the ground.
“I’ve been thinking the last couple of years who he reminds me of,” Brickman said. “I finally figured it out. He reminds me of Jason White when he was at Tuttle and early in his career at OU before he tore his ACL. Same size (6-3, 215-pounds), can throw the ball. He looks like he’s not moving very fast because he’s so big. But he’s really athletic and he’s just a winner.”
Despite the contributions of Hansen, Southmoore (2-2, 0-1 District 6A-4) still had its opportunities to pull out the victory.
For much of the day, Jaelon Walker had destroyed the Wolves defense. The senior was just as spectacular as Hansen as he rushed for 198 yards on 31 carries.
But with 4:22 left in the fourth quarter, Southmoore had the ball on the goalline. They gave it to Walker three out of four plays, and he was stopped each time.
The Wolves turned around and put together a seven play scoring drive to put the game away.
“I thought we had a really good game plan going in,” Brickman said. “We need to work on our redzone offense. Our redzone offense hurt us. Defensively, tackling in space hurt us.”
The game’s scoring started early when Southmoore quarterback Conner Uselton hit Walker for a 66-yard touchdown pass on the second play from scrimmage.
But Santa Fe answered on its first drive as Hansen quickly went to work. Three plays after a 19-yard pass completion to Kaden Mendenhall, Hansen split the middle of the Southmoore defense with a 21-yard score to tie the game at 7-7.
The score remained tied until the 4:43 mark of the second quarter when Hansen again engineered a long scoring drive. He found Aaron Jones for 20 yards before putting on a few of his own moves to score on a 27-yard run.
This time, Southmoore had an answer. The SaberCats capped a 9-play drive with a two-yard touchdown run from Nick Scott just before the half.
The Wolves came out of halftime and Hansen dialed up a 46-yard pass play to senior Malik Earl, who finished with four catches for 63 yards.
Southmoore added a 22-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 21-17 with 5:34 left in the third quarter.
The SaberCats took their only lead of the night when Walker ran eight times in a 10-play drive and he scored from two yards out, giving his team a 24-21 advantage.
The lead was short lived as Hansen scored on a two-yard run on the ensuing possession. The Wolves led, 28-24.
Southmoore will travel to Putnam City Friday to take on Putnam City West (2-2, 0-1). The Patriots are not in the same caliber as ESF.
“They need to see the big picture,” Brickman said. “They are in a very tough district. We had a tough non district schedule. They just have to keep getting better at what we do.”