ONEONTA – Oneonta trailed Norwich by 12 points midway through the second quarter, and it just had a fourth-and-goal stuffed at the one-yard line. Turns out, the Yellowjackets had the Purple Tornado right where they wanted them.
Riding the wave of momentum, the Yellowjackets finished the game with 32 unanswered points, and won the longtime rivalry game, 32-12.
“Momentum is a funny thing,” said Oneonta head coach Adam Hoover. “Once you get a little bit of it going, anything can happen.”
To Norwich’s chagrin, just about anything did happen after the first quarter, and most of it was bad.
Right after the stout defensive hold at the one, Norwich was forced to punt the ball back from its own five.Doug DiMartin returned Tyler Slater’s 36-yard punt 23 yards down to the 18-yard line. Seven plays later, Brendan Pidgeon dove over on a fourth-and-one for the first score.
It was just the first of many big plays for Pidgeon on the day, who finished with three touchdowns, two interceptions, and easily double-digit tackles.
Oneonta attempted an onside kick immediately after its first score, and would have gained possession if not for the hustle of Tornado up-man Mark Stanard. Stanard dove between two Oneonta special teams players to recover the ball at the Oneonta 44. On a third-and-five, opportunistic Oneonta ratcheted the momentum up a few more notches. Norwich quarterback Tim Clark had his pass batted up in the air by 6-foot-3 ‘Jackets lineman Dalton Smith, and Oneonta junior linebacker Pat Jeffries hauled the ball in racing 56 yards the other way for a stunning score with 47 seconds left in the opening half.