Norwich hangs on to perfect start; Purple Tornado defense shuts down the Spartans

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.

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