BINGHAMTON – Some things you just can’t practice. Like the improvisation of Johnson City quarterback Ricky Balles, who bailed his team out of broken plays time and again.
Balles threw for three scores against Norwich Saturday, and added two TD runs in the second half in the Wildcats’ 35-14 win in the Section IV Class B semifinals at Binghamton Alumni Stadium.
Balles threw for 234 yards on 12-of-15 passing as Norwich had difficulty matching up with JC’s athletic receivers. Balles hit seven different targets finding Anthony Johns, Dominic Taylor, and Quinton Johnson on scoring passes. The first of those – to Johns – was a direct-to-ESPN-top-10 highlight.
On second down, Balles was tripped up for a 17-yard sack by Tornado senior Spencer Stone. Facing a third-and-forever, Balles narrowly avoided an onslaught of Norwich pursuers as he weaved and bobbed breaking at least two tackles to extend the play.
Rolling to his right, he found Johns near the right sideline – in front of the JC bench. Johns broke two more tackles and raced down the right sideline for the improbable 64-yard TD to open the scoring.
“It seemed like we had (Balles) at least eight times, and then (Johns) another eight times,” said Norwich coach Mike Chrystie.
Just a week earlier, Norwich was blown out by JC, 55-7. The second quarter in that game was pivotal as the Wildcats scored four TDs to create a 34-0 halftime lead. This second quarter, though, was a different story.