Johnson City 24, Norwich 21
NORWICH – A ferocious second-half comeback by Norwich fell short when Johnson City drove for the winning score in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.
Reggie Williams’ four-yard TD run with 16 seconds left polished off a 78-yard drive as the Wilcats eked out a win over the Tornado Friday night. Quarterback Nick Weathers hit all-state receiver Troy Robinson four times for 48 yards during the last possession to extend the drive. As time ticked down, JC called a timeout before the winning score, and Norwich prepared for another Weathers pass or run. “We anticipated they would roll out to the left and look for Robinson, or run the option to the same side,” said Norwich coach John Martinson. “So we overloaded our defense to one side. They ran the fullback – and we held him to just 22 yards in the game – to the opposite side. The kid just bull-dozed through and made a great run. We had kids in place to make the play, it was just a well executed play.”
Norwich (2-4) made its way back into the game running the ball inside with Tyler Hoffman, and getting tailback Mackay Hotaling to the outside. Hoffman’s second TD run of the second half – a one-yard run – with just over three minutes remaining in the game put the Tornado in front for the first time. Hoffman had a two-yard scoring run earlier in the fourth quarter, and Hotaling scampered eight yards for a touchdown in the third to put his team on the board. Norwich had four possessions in the second half – not including the 16 seconds at the end – scoring on three and fumbling the ball away on the other.
“The second half we really dominated the line of scrimamge, and we were able to attack them off tackle with Hoffman and get Mackay to the outside,” Martinson said. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and I can’t remember a Norwich team coming back from 18 points down at halftime. We won the third and fourth quarters, and in terms of character, desire, and determination, this was a win. We just need to do it for four quarters.”
It was the third straight win for JC over Norwich, and the win seemed almost assured after the Wildcats took an 18-0 lead into halftime.
“The first half, we really struggled offensively, and we made a lot of mistakes,” Martinson said. “We didn’t seem to be together as a team.”
JC shook the Tornado early in the game when Miguel Mendoza popped a run up the middle dashing 86 yards for the first score. Weathers ran for a 30-yard touchdown in the second quarter, and Weathers hooked up with Troy Robinson on a 23-yard TD strike upping the lead to 18.
Other than the two long runs in the first half, JC had just 43 yards rushing on 27 attempts. Most of Norwich’s yards came in the second half. Hoffman led Norwich with 76 yards on 15 attempts, and Hotaling had 74 yards for an NHS offense that finished with 224 yards rushing.
“Johnson City had a lot of team speed and they were tough defend,” Martinson said. “We did a very good job defensively, for the most part.”