ONEONTA – Norwich took the longest and most difficult road to a second straight postseason berth, and completed that journey Friday night in Oneonta at Lloyd Baker Field.
The Tornado (4-4) executed two scoring drives in the second half with almost flawless precision, and survived Oneonta’s last-minute attempt to pull the rug out from Norwich’s season winning 15-12.
Losers of four of five games at one point, Norwich persevered the last two weeks winning back-to-back division road games to secure second place in Class B’s Division three. Next up is this Friday’s road date at Owego in the first round of the postseason. Owego topped Johnson City Saturday to win the Class B, Division IV crown.
“We’re two wins away from being Section IV champions,” said Norwich coach John Martinson to his team as he closed his post-game comments.
Norwich – and Oneonta for that matter – had absolutely no offensive rhythm in the first half. The punters were called into duty four times apiece. Norwich had the ball on Oneonta’s side of the field on two occasions, yet a stingy ‘Jackets defense refused to budge.
Oneonta seemed to make the right offensive adjustments to start the second half driving 65 yards for the opening score of the game. Bryce Wooden shook off a would-be Norwich tackler near the line of scrimmage, and rumbled 25 yards to the end zone diving over the goal line for good measure.
Norwich, too, made the right amount off offensive tinkering, and sparked by Morgan Crawford’s 37-yard kickoff return past midfield, moved unabated for the tying score. Tyler Hoffman, Josh Favaloro, and Mackey Hotaling alternated carries, and Favaloro’s 11-yard scamper around the left end tied the contest. Nate Ashton’s straight-on extra-point boot had Norwich ahead to stay.