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SECTION IV FOOTBALL: NORWICH DOMINATES SECOND HALF IN 40-20 WIN OVER WAVERLY (24 PHOTOS) (2019-10-18)

By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
WAVERLY - Waverly scored twice in a 15-second span late in the second quarter to pull within seven points, but Norwich dominated the second half en route to a 40-20 win to spoil Homecoming here Friday night at Memorial Stadium.

The Wolverines limited Norwich's all-everything junior QB Griffin Mils to 91 rushing yards on 22 carries, but senior tailback David Berger gashed the Wolverines for 278 yards and four TDs on 27 carries.

"They beat us up in the middle of the line," said Waverly coach Jason Miller. "They are good and physical up front, that's why there were able to hang within a touchdown of the likes of (Chenango) Forks and Maine-Endwell.

"(Berger) ran hard, and we didn't tackle well," noted Miller. "On the one long run, we had a guy get out of position, and came in to try to help inside in the tackle box, and (Berger) bounced to the outside and our guy's not there anymore.

"I thought we did a real nice job Mills. Unfortunately, we didn't do a very good job on Berger," added Miller.

In all, Norwich pounded out 416 yards on the ground on 58 carries.

After forcing Norwich into a three-and-out in its first possession, Waverly moved into Purple Tornado territory thanks to a 21-yard pass from 8th-grade QB Joey Tomasso to junior Aidan Westbrook, but the Norwich defense stiffened and forced a turnover on downs at its 35.

After runs of 10 and 18 yards, and a 12-yard tote by Mills, Berger ripped off a 21-yard TD run on the fifth play of the possession to make it 7-0 with 7:07 remaining in the first quarter.

Waverly's next two possessions were three-and-out. After Waverly's second punt, Norwich drove to the Waverly 18, but a pair of holding calls put them in a first-and-31 hole. On second-and-29, Mills lofted a ball downfield and Westbrook came up with the interception at the 22.

Another three-and-out forced another Waverly punt, but this time a low snap resulted in Ethan Stotler's punt being blocked, and recovered by the Purple Tornadoes in the end zone to make it 14-0 with 11:42 remaining in the first half.

Waverly moved the ball to the Norwich 35 on its next possession, but turned the ball over on downs. Three plays later, Berger broke loose on a 59-yard scoring run to make it 21-0 with 8:41 remaining in the half.

After a 14-yard pass from Tomasso to Stotler, Waverly's offense again stalled and three straight incompletions led to the Wolverines' fourth punt of the first half.

After an exchange of possessions, Norwich took over at its 47 with 2:34 remaining in the first half. After a holding call put Norwich in a second-and-24 hole, Stotler picked off a Mills pass and returned it 14 yards to the Norwich 22. A flag for a late hit out-of-bounds moved the ball to the 8.

An illegal procedure call moved the ball back to the 13, but Tomasso connected with senior Jalen McCarty on a 13-yard TD pass to put the Wolverines on the board. Junior Alex Gadow's PAT kick trimmed the lead to 14-7 with 1:45 remaining in the first half.

J.T. Vinal returned the ensuing kickoff to the 34, but McCarty came out of the pile with a fumble recovery to give the Wolverines the ball back.

On Waverly's first play, junior Caden Wheeler ripped off a 34-yard TD run on a jet sweep around the right end. Gadow's PAT kick made it 21-14 with 1:30 remaining in the first half.

"I like the way we responded there, we had a lot of momentum," said Miller. "We were able to punch it in both times

"Those are the things we'll look at, the good things we'll look at, and say this is what we need to learn from.

"We can compete, at times, with anyone we're on the field with," added Miller. "We just haven't been able to do it for 48 minutes, that's really the bottom line at this level, against these teams."

The second half was all Norwich, which held Waverly to just two first downs after the intermission.

An interception by Jaden Jenkins midway through the third quarter, and a personal foul call against the Wolverines on the play, set the Purple Tornadoes up at the Waverly 33.

Three plays later, Berger ripped off a 24-yard TD run to make it 27-14 with 4 minutes remaining in the third quarter.

After Waverly's fourth three-and-out of the second half, Norwich put together a 13-play, 87-yard drive, culminating with a 6-yard TD run by Mills with 4:04 remaining in the game to make it 34-14.

Waverly trimmed the deficit to 34-20 on a 15-yard TD pass from Tomasso to Stotler with 2:51 remaining in the game.

Norwich recovered the ensuing onside kickoff, and drove down to score on a 19-yard run by Berger with 40 seconds left in the game.

Waverly threatened in the closing seconds after a 46-yard run by Wheeler moved the ball to the Norwich 14, but four straight incompletions gave the ball back to the Purple Tornadoes on downs with 14 seconds remaining.

The Wolverines rushed for just 91 yards on 16 carries, but 80 of those yards came on two carries by Wheeler, who led the team with 87 yards on five carries.

"They kicked our ass up front," said Miller. "They got a lot of penetration, and we weren't able to get anything going on the ground.

"We thought we had a good run plan, but we obviously didn't. The way they were pinching ... we just couldn't handle it," he added.

Tomasso completed just 16 of his 39 pass attempts for 164 yards, two TDs, and one interception.

Westbrook led Waverly's receiving corps with four receptions for 76 yards, while Stotler had five catches for 61 yards and one TD, and McCarty added four grabs for 29 yards and one TD.

It was Tomasso's worst game of the season in terms of percentage of passes completed, and Miller said his problems were with his technique.

"I think the pressure inside caused a lot of it ... their ends were kicking our ass, and getting up field.

"His feet were a little happy in the first half, consequently when he was stepping into his throws in the first half, he was stepping out, which causes the arm to come up and the ball sails," said Miller.

"He still played a pretty good," added Miller. "Every time there's an incompletion, there's multitude of things that could have happened ... poor routes, linemen not doing their jobs, etc."

Mills had a woeful night throwing the ball, completing just 2 of 10 passes for 17 yards and two interceptions.

Waverly, now 3-4, hosts powerhouse Chenango Forks (6-0) next Friday.

"We're going to find out a lot about ourselves this week," said Miller. "We are physically banged up, and we have to play the No. 2 team in the state (Chenango Forks), which is probably the best team in the state."

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IN PHOTO 1: Waverly's Jalen McCarty hauls in a TD pass. ... PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.


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