BROKEN ARROW — Clinging to a seven-point lead early in the second quarter against winless Norman, Broken Arrow needed a spark.
Zach Marcheselli answered the call.
Marcheselli, an outside linebacker, made interceptions on back-to-back Norman offensive series — returning the first one 29 yards for a touchdown to highlight a 35-point second quarter outburst — and No. 5 Broken Arrow rolled to a 59-7 District 6AI-1 victory on Senior Night on Thursday at Memorial Stadium.
The victory was the third straight for Broken Arrow (4-4, 4-1), which has outscored opponents 152-35 in its three-game winning streak. After a 1-4 start, the Tigers have won three of their past four contests.
But it appeared to be anything but a runaway early as the Tigers lost three fumbles in an opening quarter that ended knotted at 7.
But three plays after Broken Arrow fullback Kaizer Newell had given his team a 14-7 advantage on a 2-yard touchdown plunge, Marcheselli changed the complexion of the game.
He stepped in front of a Diandre Bell pass in the left flat and motored 29 yards for a touchdown to give his team a two-touchdown lead.
“I just went with the flow of the play and then jumped the route,” said Marcheselli, who is also a two-time state champion wrestler for the Tigers.
“I think it (the interception) boosted our team a little,” he added, noting that the pick was the first for a Tiger linebacker since last season.
As if that was not enough, on Norman’s next possession — again on third down — Marcheselli got in front of a Bell pass in nearly the same position on the field and returned the ball 19 yards to the Norman 23-yard line.
“It was kind of the same play,” he said. “Except this time I let their quarterback get me.”
Broken Arrow head coach David Alexander marveled at Marcheselli’s contributions to the team.
“Zach is one of our fastest players as an outside linebacker,” he said. “He does several things for us; he even returns kicks. His (first) interception gave us a kick start.”
Marcheselli’s play was part of a solid effort by the Broken Arrow defense.
Defensive back Damian Everette had a big fumble recovery deep in Broken Arrow territory with the game tied 7-7 in the first quarter. He also came up with an interception on Norman’s first offensive possession of the third quarter that led to a Broken Arrow touchdown.
Broken Arrow’s defense held Norman (0-8, 0-5), which has now lost 12 in a row dating back to last season, to just one first down in the first half and only five for the game while limiting the visitors to 125 total yards (100 rushing, 25 passing).
Meanwhile, Broken Arrow’s offense was led by tailback Corben Chambers, who rushed for 95 yards and scored on three touchdown runs (2, 8 and 17 yards).
Tailback Kejuan Tolbert also tallied twice — once on a 30-yard pass from quarterback Lafayette Wright and on a 17-yard scamper in the third quarter — while rushing for a game-high 106 yards on 13 carries.
Norman, which did not have regular starting quarterback Cade Horton available due to illness, scored its only touchdown on a 15-yard pass from Bell to Mark Williams.