CONKLIN – Norwich’s defense, maligned the previous two weeks, buckled down at the most critical of junctures Saturday afternoon.
The Tornado stuffed a Susquehanna Valley fourth-and-goal in overtime, then proceeded to drive 20 yards for the winning touchdown in a 19-13 victory over the Sabers.
Mike Oralls broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and dashed nine yards to paydirt. He was overwhelmed by most of the Norwich team in the end zone as the Purple Tornado celebrated a Class B playoff-clinching win.
“I never imagined it would come down to this, but I could not be more proud of the way the guys came back from adversity and pulled out the victory,” said Norwich first-year varsity coach Mike Chrystie.
Norwich easily drove for a score on its first possession and built a 13-0 halftime advantage. The Sabers didn’t record their initial first down until the second quarter, and barely crossed into Tornado territory.
As non-threatening as the SV offense was in the first half, it was nearly unstoppable in the third quarter. Junior running back Lain Zembek rushed for 150 yards in the third quarter alone and 230 for the game. He ripped off runs of 56, 25, 17, 16, and 13 yards in the quarter. Zembek’s first big run – on the opening drive of the second half – brought the Sabers to the NHS 11. Two plays later, the host club fumbled the ball away at the Norwich three.