CHENANGO BRIDGE – Instead of running into the playoffs with a full head of steam, Norwich will enter Section IV postseason play with a bit of a limp.
Norwich dropped its second game in as many weeks, and the latest setback came with the outright Division III title on the line. Kevin Cox ran the Chenango Valley option exquisitely finishing with four touchdowns and 135 yards rushing in a 32-21 win over the Tornado Saturday afternoon.
The Warriors won their fourth straight game and forced a three-way tie for the division crown with Norwich and Oneonta. By virtue of the tie-breaking system, CV earned the top seed and a home playoff game, while Norwich (4-3) fell to the second spot and will play Johnson City this coming weekend on the road.
“Chenango Valley executed its game plan to perfection,” said Norwich coach John Martinson, who has guided the Tornado to the playoffs in each of his three seasons. “They really hurt us with the option. We worked all week long on it, but it’s hard to defend when you don’t see it. We tried to give them many different looks, but Cox runs it very well for them.”
While CV was exceptionally swift in moving down the field and scoring, Norwich churned out its yards in small doses. The ball-control offense was the Tornado’s best defense in the first half, and a 16-play drive that chewed up nearly eight minutes of time hoisted Norwich to a 14-13 halftime lead. The Tornado moved the ball past midfield, but stalled after a third-and-five pass fell incomplete. However, Norwich gained new life when its punter, Kyle Edwards, was knocked down as he followed through on his punt. A 15-yard penalty was enforced, and Norwich plowed ahead. On a fourth-and-seven from the CV 10, Norwich went to the air again, and this time quarterback Seth Thomsen found his mark. Edwards, dragging across the back of the endzone, dove to the ground to haul in the low throw from Thomsen, the NHS quarterback’s second TD pass of the game. Zan Stewart, a call-up from junior varsity, put Norwich up by one with the successful point-after boot.