The Mustang Broncos allowed 20 unanswered points in the second half of a 27-19 loss to the Norman Tigers last Friday at Bronco Stadium.
The Broncos (4-4, 1-4) were also forced to settle for four straight field goals in the first half – smart decisions by coach Lee Blankenship and his staff, but in the end, turning two of junior kicker Aiden Jordan’s field goals into touchdowns could have put the Tigers away.
Freshman quarterback Tyson Pogi was also forced into the fire for a second straight week, but this time with a game plan. He entered the team’s Week 7 loss at Union in an emergency situation after Trajan Williamson (Jr.) suffered a hand injury early in the game.
Pogi and the offense clicked early – leading Mustang into scoring territory five times in the first 24 minutes. After building a 12-7 lead on Jordan’s field goals, which were good from 19, 40, 39, and 25 yards, the Broncos finally found the end zone with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Pogi to Ben Patkowski (Jr.) with :27 left in the half.
The Broncos racked up over 200 yards in the first half, including 115 passing yards from Pogi and 93 yards on the ground from senior running back Bryance Sanders. Pogi went 13-for-20 in his first 24 minutes as a starter.
Jaden Johnson (So.) pulled in eight receptions, seeming to build a solid rhythm with the team’s young QB.
The second half was a different story.
A pair of Dax Noles one-yard touchdown runs gave Norman a 22-19 lead late in the third quarter. Noles and quarterback Phoenix Murphy iced the game with a 41-yard touchdown pass with 6:27 left in the fourth.
Aiden Jordan (Jr.) went 4-for-4 on field goal attempts during Mustang’s 27-19 loss to Norman on Friday, Oct. 20, 2023 at Bronco Stadium. His kicks were good from 19, 40, 39, and 25 yards. (Photo by Ron Lane / Lane Images)
Pogi was held to 4-for-7 in the second half for just 30 yards. Senior Jake Blice entered the game on two occasions, including the team’s final drive. Blice helped march the Broncos into the red zone, but eventually the offense failed to convert on a fourth-down play.
Sanders gained just five yards after halftime. Johnson was unable to reel in a reception. The team finished with just 77 of its 202 passing yards down the stretch and rushed for only 20 yards.
The Broncos were held to just three possessions over the final two quarters.
- POGI PROGRESSION
Mustang’s offense looked much better with Pogi at the helm compared to last week at Union.
That was to be expected considering the young signal caller was rostered as the third string QB for most of the season, entering last week’s game under shaky circumstances.
Pogi undoubtedly has plenty of talent, and Mustang offensive coordinator Cody McDaniel helped complement his throwing ability with short, easy throws to get him going early. Pogi and Johnson looked like a strong combo in the first half.
- BLICE MORE THAN A BACKUP
Blice came in on multiple possessions and on the team’s final drive, the former Westmoore starter put Mustang in position to tie the game.
He rushed for 15 yards and completed a 13-yard pass to L.B. Hayes (Sr.) and a 31-yarder to Patkowski. The Swiss Army Knife-type player totaled 87 yards and provides a solid option for the Broncos offensively. Maybe we see multiple possessions with him in the team’s final two regular season games?
Jake Blice looks to the sideline for a play during Mustang’s 27-19 loss to Norman on Friday, Oct. 20, 2023 at Bronco Stadium. Blice entered at quarterback twice during the game, including the team’s final drive. (Photo by Ron Lane / Lane Images)
Blice has also played linebacker and has lined up as the team’s punter this season. He has proven to be a valuable asset after transferring during the summer.
- ZACH WARREN INJURY
Senior safety Zach Warren suffered a season-ending leg injury during a play near Norman’s sideline on Friday.
Warren has been a stalwart in the Bronco secondary over the past two seasons, gaining multiple looks from colleges this year, including Oklahoma State. He had racked up 84 total tackles through seven weeks with one interception and three pass deflections.
Warren handled the injury on the field “really well” according to coaches and staff, and he gave the crowd a chance to applaud his efforts while holding his helmet to the sky as the team’s medical cart drove off the field.
- GROWING PAINS
Blankenship admitted during the preseason that his team was “young” and even acknowledged the expected growing pains that come with an inexperienced, but talented squad.
This game was the prime example.
Mustang actually outgained the Tigers 359-351 and held Murphy to under 200 yards passing. However, the Broncos also failed to convert on nine third-down attempts – punting twice, failing to convert once, and settling for three points four times.
They did give up 20 points in the second half, but after allowing a first-drive touchdown, the team settled in on both sides of the ball. Multiple sophomores and freshman see playing time, which sometimes leads to close losses against talented teams.
And the Tigers are much improved. They have a talented and experienced squad, especially at the skill positions.
- PLAYOFF POSITIONING
The Broncos need to win at least one of their final two games against Edmond North and Edmond Memorial to lock up a playoff spot.
A win over Memorial in Week 10 would likely give Mustang the sixth spot out of District 2. Wins over both the Huskies and Bulldogs would line the Broncos up with the fifth seed from the district.
A victory (or two) would likely send Mustang on a trip to either Moore to play Westmoore or Norman to take on Norman North, but the Broncos could be forced to travel to Broken Arrow.