Frank Speziale Photo
NORWICH – Homecoming 2016 for the Norwich Purple Tornado, down 16-0 at the half, a 23-point comeback in the third quarter, and a missed two-point conversion for the possible win – that is the roller coaster ride that the the Tornado fans endured on Friday night, when the Sabers came to town.
“It's one of those games where whoever loses is going to be extremely disappointed,” said Norwich head coach Mike Chrystie.
The Susquehanna Valley Sabers, a class B division rival for Norwich and in a must win game on Homecoming, the Sabers proceeded to slice their way through the struggling Tornado team in the first half, eventually earning the 30-29 win over Norwich on Oct. 7.
SV would lead 16-0 at the half following a pair of one yard touchdown runs from Jarred Freije and Brandon Vosbury, and a 23 yard field goal kick from Timothy Hawley as time expired in the half.
“It really was was a tale of two halves. The first half we just didn’t come out and execute, we couldn’t get anything started on offense. We couldn’t really establish the run like we'd hoped to,” said Norwich head coach Mike Chrystie.
Facing a massive deficit, Norwich emerged from the halftime break with a newfound vigor. Norwich's quarterback Cole Rifanburg connected with receiver Ky'sawn (Pop) Veale for the first of three strikes in the game, between the duo. Rifanburg launched the pass, ball deflected off a Sabers defensive backs hands, Veale turned just in time for the ball to land in his arms, and for him to turn on the jets as he raced to the end-zone for a 79 yard touchdown just a few minutes into the second half, with 10:31 still left in the third quarter.
“Halftime I think something went off, we made some adjustments offensively and defensively. The kids did a great job picking up the adjustments, we had a lot of success throwing the ball,” said coach Chrystie. “We put up 23-points in the third quarter, but I think that first one to 'Pop' (Ky'sawn Veale) where the corner tipped it and it landed in 'Pop's' arms. He took it all the way for the touchdown and I think that is what ignited us for the whole quarter. It got everyone going; it got us going, it got the sideline going, it got the crowd going. Then we just ran with it, we had 23-unanswered points, it was great for our kids.”