NORWICH – After shooting itself in the foot, Norwich got up with guns blazing.
The Purple Tornado surged in the fourth quarter scoring three touchdowns to defeat Johnson City, 27-14, Friday night in the Section IV Class B semifinals.
It was the sixth straight victory for Norwich (6-3), who earned a rematch with three-time defending Section IV – and state – champion Maine-Endwell Saturday at 6 p.m. at Union-Endicott High School.
Tristan Rifanburg ran for a career-high 162 yards and two touchdowns, and Norwich senior Mike Oralls eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second straight season totaling 134 yards rushing and two more touchdowns.
It was by far the most significant use of Rifanburg this season, who did most of his rushing out the quarterback spot where he continually ran through truck-sized holes on the left side. “Really, everyone is a big part of the game plan, especially our linemen, who were winning in the trenches,” Rifanburg said, who then gave a shout-out to his blockers. “Cole Brightman, Jamison Luke, Dallas Marango, Thomas Reilly, and Jon Manwarren, they were the ones leading the way.”
Norwich sliced through the Wildcats defense on its first possession of the second half. Rifanburg and Oralls alternated carries, and Rifanburg’s 14-yard TD run tied the game at 7-7.
After forcing a three-and-out for JC, Norwich was on the move again when Oralls had the ball jarred loose leading to a JC recovery at the 38. Norwich survived that miscue, but did not overcome the next.
On the ensuing possession, Rifanburg was unable to handle Brandon Holliday’s fourth-down punt, and a JC player pounced on the ball at the Norwich 29. Four plays later – all Dominick Nadz runs – Nadz scored with 10:03 left in the fourth on his second 16-yard TD run of the day.