ONEIDA – Playoff scenarios did not pan out for the Purple Tornado this weekend, but a win over previously-unbeaten Oneida made a big statement for Section IV football.
“I think it does say a lot about the type of football we play in Section IV,” said Norwich coach John Pluta of his team’s fifth win this year. “They came in as the number two team in the state, and we were coming off losses to two tough teams. It was very hard hitting on both sides, but I don’t think they’ve had the type of battles we have had.”
The Tornado returned to the level of dominance that has typified the program for just about two decades. The Indians were held to just 120 yards of total offense – 40 of those in the running game on 26 carries. Still, it took a last-minute touchdown to put Norwich on top.
Oneida grabbed a 9-8 lead with just under six minutes to play on Brandon Miles’ 27-yard field goal. The Indians’ victory hopes looked more promising after stopping Norwich’s go-ahead TD drive on the eight-yard line.
Norwich mustered one more defensive stand and took over at its own 47-yard line. Beginning the drive with nice off-tackle runs, quarterback Tim Clark then hit David Carson on a quick-hitting gainer over the middle for a first down. On the next play, Clark rolled to his left and picked up a huge block from Vaughn Labor to buy some time. Clarked hooked up Andrew Austin on a big first-down gainer to the Oneida two. Mike Moon carried it the remaining yards for the winning score with 31 seconds remaining.
Norwich outgained Oneida 323-120, and actually outpassed an Indians club (88-80) that had well over 1,000 yards passing from signal-caller Ryan Kramer. “Our front four and our entire defense did a great job. We came off the ball and won both sides of the line of scrimmage,” Pluta said. “The biggest lesson we learned is that in football, you need to show up and play every week. We still have some stated goals we want to accomplish, and one of those is to beat Oneonta. Oneonta is still in the playoff hunt, and we’d like to have a say in that.”
Norwich led 8-0 in the second quarter on Austin’s 47-yard TD reception from Clark. Christian Hotaling tacked on the two-point conversion.
Oneida had its best success of the game on its TD score to answer that. Rick Rossi scored on a three-yard run making it an 8-6 game at halftime. “They hurt us with a formation we had not seen,” Pluta said. “Coach (John) Martinson did a nice job of making adjustments.”
Norwich plays at Oneonta Friday at 7 p.m.
Score by Quarters
NHS 0 8 0 6–14
On. 0 6 0 3– 9
N: Andrew Austin 47 pass from Tim Clark (Christian Hotaling run).
O: Rick Rossi 3 run (Run failed).