Norwich ‘zeroes’ in on Sabers

By Patrick Newell

Sun Sports Editor

NORWICH – It was a revival of traditional – make that prototypical – Norwich football, and Tornado mentor John Pluta said his team zeroed in its focus on one thing.

“We didn’t care who we were playing, our focus was on ‘what can we do better?’” he said.

What did the Tornado do better?

How about putting last week’s road loss in the past and putting a “W” on the board. Secondly, and perhaps most satisfying, was the points allowed to Friday’s opponent.

Norwich has four sacks and two interceptions, plus it allowed the Sabers just one offensive penetration into the red zone finishing with a 21-0 shutout. Meanwhile, junior running back Chris Mattingly ran for a season-high 139 yards and two scores.

“We’ve looked at the last four times we played (Sus Valley), and they all been really close,” Pluta said “They play physical football, and it started out that way again.”

Norwich ran just eight plays the entire first quarter netting one first down and six total yards. Thankfully, the stout defense was equal to SV’s forcing two punts.

The lack of offense from each side changed in a hurry on the first play of the second quarter, one in which Mattingly brought back fond memories. Mattingly burst up the middle on a quick-hitting trap that went 62 yards to paydirt. Lead blocker Brennan Ryan executed a perfect fake taking several would-be tacklers with him, and he was also in on the superb blocking. “They were taking away some of the outside tackle stuff that had been working for us the first two games,” Pluta said. “That play (Mattingly’s run) was like the old days when the back gets kind of lost in the middle, then breaks loose.”

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