NORWICH – If you could bet on high school sports, Norwich was considered the underdog in their match up against the visiting Spartans of Maine-Endwell. The Purple Tornado took down the former powerhouse Spartans in dramatic fashion, winning 13-12.
Norwich started the game with a quick three-and-out, giving the ball to Spartans early in the game. Immediately, M-E threatened with the first drive as ball carrier Josh Chandler ran for 23 yards up the middle. Chandler picked up another first down for the Spartans to play later on another play up the middle, getting the ball deep into the Tornado territory.
Maine-Endwell tried to run it outside for the next few plays but Norwich had the outside contained, forcing the Spartans to their first third down of the game. They called on their quarterback, Joe Mancini, to throw the ball. The third down chance would break down as Norwich’s Grant Wessels and Ty Rifanburg put pressure on Mancini, bringing him down at the original line of scrimmage.
M-E went for it on fourth, again calling on Mancini to throw the ball. This time, Tornado Michael Carson picked off the attempt, running it back 36 yards and giving Norwich good field position to start their next drive.
Norwich’s quarterback Zack Race connected with running back Eric Conant 13 yards down field, giving the Tornado their first first-down of the game. Conant ran for 14 yards later in the drive to give them another first down.
Two plays later, Race’s pass that was intended for Ty Rifanburg was intercepted by Maine-Endwell’s Ryan Brozovic. Brozovic ran the interception back into Norwich’s half of the field, setting the Spartans up with great field position to start their next possession.
Nothing came from the great field position for the Spartans as the drive stalled when going for it on fourth-and-ten. Norwich’s Brennan Slater tackled Mancini for a loss of 8 yards, creating the turnover on downs for the Spartans.
The Purple’s next drive resulted in a Rifanburg punt, giving the ball to M-E at their own 32.
Maine-Endwell’s ensuing possession looked very similar to their first of the game, calling on Chandler to run up the middle and gain chunks of yards. Again the Spartans went away from what was working, allowing the Tornado to take over after Conant to record a sack on Mancini as he dropped back for the pass.
Again, Norwich’s drive after a big defensive stop resulted in a three-and-out as they couldn’t get the offense running.
The Spartans took over after Rifanburg’s punt, starting at their own 26 yard line with 3:02 left in the half. M-E gained two huge runs from Chandler and Jon Honnick-Panye, each over 20 yards. Four plays later, Mancini ran it in from nine yards out, giving the Spartans the 6-0 lead with :55 on the clock for the half. Chandler’s point after attempt was no good, keeping the score 6-0.
Norwich’s J.T. Vinal took Chandlers kick-off 18 yards, setting up the Tornado’s next drive at the 30 yard line. With 70 yards and only 50 seconds left, the Purple had work in front of them. However, they were up for the challenge as they took it 69 yards on the back of Race. Wessels punched it up the middle, crossing the goal-line, allowing Norwich to tie up the ball game 6-6. Tornado kicker Mike Trevisani came out onto the field for his first extra point try of the game. He continued his season streak, making this extra point and giving Norwich the lead 7-6 to go into the intermission.
Maine-Endwell received the ball to start the second half. It looked like a ping-pong match as both teams had two drives a piece but resulted in punts or turn over on downs...