By Patrick Newell
Sun Sports Editor
SIDNEY – The town of Sidney, like many other area communities, was wracked by the devastating flood of last week. As the cleanup process continues, the football team provided a nice diversion Saturday afternoon against visiting Norwich.
Sidney’s first-period interception return for the touchdown was complemented by a trick play in the fourth quarter that doubled the lead, and the Warriors held Norwich scoreless until the final minute of the game winning 12-6.
Matthews “After our first game, we got beat up a little bit, and we tried to go back to basics and get more physical,” said Sidney coach Jeff Matthews. “The two-week break kind of helped us forget what happened (in the first game).”
Norwich had trouble moving the ball throughout the game as Sidney’s aggressive defensive game plan bottled up the Tornado offense.
Norwich quarterback Seth Thomsen was bothered all game by Sidney’s ferocious pass rush, and it was that pass rush that led to the “pick six.” Harassed by an oncoming defender, Thomsen underthrew his intended receiver, and Jon Wingate grabbed the ball and raced 39 yards untouched scoring just 5:04 into the game.
That touchdown held up for most of the game, although Sidney was in prime position to add to its advantage.
“Give Norwich credit,” Matthews said. “They played good defense, and every time we got in the red zone, they had an answer.”
Norwich’s bend-but-not-break defense forced – and recovered – three fumbles in the first half, each time as Sidney seemed poised to tack on more points. On the last possession of the half, Sidney ballcarrier Nate McDonald was twice stuffed for no gain inside the five-yard line, the last play ending in a fumble that was pounced on by the Norwich defense as first-half time expired.
As badly as Norwich was outplayed for two quarters, it was just six points down, and had the ball to start the second half. Sidney, though, held Norwich on three plays, and didn’t allow Norwich inside its defensive red zone until the final minute of the game.
“We stuffed one of their best running backs on two plays, and we went into the locker room at halftime knowing we had the ball,” said Norwich coach John Martinson. “It was just a hard day for us to sustain drives.
Norwich adjusted to Sidney’s spread offense forcing two punts before Patrick Vibbard hit Isaac McCarroll on a 37-yard pass to the Norwich 15. The Tornado defense tightened, and Vibbard’s fourth-down pass early in the fourth quarter was knocked down by the Tornado’s Kyle Edwards.
On the next play, Sidney forced an Edwards fumble picking it up at the 19. Vibbard, who was on the mark throughout the first half, but had three straight incompletions as the drive never got untracked.
Norwich displayed flickers off offensive momentum midway through the fourth driving for two first downs on two occasions. Each drive, though, never threatened Sidney’s endzone.
The Warriors, seemingly in run mode, broke out a halfback option pass to expand the lead. MacDonald took a handoff on a sweep right, but pulled back and fired a strike to Damian Zimmer. Zimmer made one Norwich defender miss, and dashed 74 yards for his team’s second touchdown.
Norwich moved 66 yards in just over a minute for its lone score. Pat Taylor ran for 24 yards, Taylor hauled in a 36-yard pass from backup quarterback Michael Sutton, and Sutton found Edwards all alone in the endzone on a three-yard TD score with 37.3 seconds left. That lone touchdown was little solace for a Tornado team that was thoroughly outplayed most of the game.
“I don’t want to make any excuses,” Martinson said. “Sidney was the better team today, and they deserved this win. We just need to get back after it.”
Sidney, limited to 77 yards on the ground, piled up 246 yards passing. Vibbard, just a sophomore, went 13-for-20 for 172 yards...