NORWICH – With under a minute to play and Owego driving for a go-ahead score, Norwich coach John Pluta said, “I’m too old for this.” A few minutes later, Pluta updated that statement:
“I feel a lot younger than I did 10 minutes ago.”
Thoroughly outplayed by Owego for 2 1/2 quarters, Norwich rallied for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to defeat the visiting club, 18-14 Friday night.
Tim Clark’s fourth-and-11 pass connection to tight end David Carson gave Norwich its one and only lead of the game. Jake Fazio’s sack of Owego quarterback Nick Koroluck ended the contest as the Tornado stormed the field.
One would have thought it was a playoff game instead of opening night, and the intensity on both sides of the ball exemplified it. “Owego will definitely be in the (playoff) hunt,” Pluta said. “They are a tough team.”
So tough, the Indians did their best version of Norwich’s ball-control offense.
Norwich senior Tyler Slater boomed a punt 60 yards inside the Owego one about midway through the first quarter. After running three plays and out, Norwich did not see the ball again the rest of the quarter.
In efficient fashion, Owego mixed some running plays with an accurate short passing game. Koroluck dinked and dunked finding seams in the Norwich defense, and time and again executed clutch third-down conversions in uncanny fashion.
With the first quarter time exhausted, Owego capped a 16-play, 99-yard drive on another third-and-long early in the second. Koroluck connected with Harley Edwards from 12 yards out making it 6-0.