Norwalk rallies around seniors for comeback win

Mark Hazelwood • Updated Oct 28, 2017 at 12:30 AM

Even staring at a 14-0 deficit, junior Kaden Livingston didn’t need more motivation than he already had.

“We were still in it. Our seniors kept us up mentally like they have been doing all year,” Livingston said. “They kept us in it and didn’t want to lose their last game — and we weren’t going to let it happen.”

Livingston caught a touchdown, ran for a second TD on a fourth-down reverse, blocked a field goal and intercepted a pass with 2:56 left that sealed a 20-14 comeback win over visiting Tiffin Columbian Friday night at Whitney Field.

The Truckers closed the season with a 3-7 overall record, and 1-4 in the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake division.

“We’ve been with these seniors since the Junior Truckers days, and we didn’t want them to lose their last game,” Livingston said. “They have been our brothers ever since — so it’s great to send them out this way.”

The game was played in a downpour rain from the late stages of the second quarter on — which proved to be beneficial for Norwalk.

“It was rough out there, slippery obviously — just hard I guess,” Livingston said. “But heart gets it done.”

Despite entering the game winless, the Tornadoes (0-10, 0-5) were in attack mode from the outset. They recovered a fumbled Norwalk punt at the Truckers’ 45-yard line in the first quarter, and running back Nick Jackson scored on a 12-yard run four plays later.

The first of two Josh Warnement PATs made it a 7-0 game at the 7:19 mark of the first quarter. The Tornadoes then recovered a Norwalk fumble at the Truckers’ 30, but Warnement’s 34-yard field goal try was blocked by Livingston — who has blocked six kicks this season.

Each team then traded a pair of possessions, and Jackson found a hole in the Norwalk defense on a 72-yard scoring run for a 14-0 lead with 10:10 left in the second quarter.

After a turnover on downs at the Norwalk 39, the Truckers finally got things going on offense. Quarterback Andrew Ehrenberg opened the ensuing drive with a 28-yard pass to Livingston — and two plays later found him for a 17-yard TD pass with 4:01 left in the half.

Livingston shed one tackler and ran through another on the way into the end zone, as the first of two Garrison Smith PATs trimmed the deficit to 14-7.

The score remained 14-7 at the half, as a 21-yard field goal attempt by Smith on the final play of the half was blocked.

“They fought and kept fighting,” Norwalk coach Chris MacFarland said of his team. “Even though we played as poorly as we could, they just didn’t panic.”

After forcing a punt deep in Columbian territory, the Truckers got the ball to begin the third quarter at the Tiffin 23.

But facing a fourth-and-6 in the driving rain, MacFarland called for a reverse pitch to Livingston, who took off to the left side, followed a key block and outran two defenders to the corner of the end zone for a 19-yard TD run.

Smith’s PAT tied it at 14 with 9:14 left in the third.

Both teams then really struggled to move the ball as the rain intensified, until finally the Truckers put together an impressive eight-play, 78-yard drive that took up 8:58 of the second half.

The entire drive consisted of Ehrenberg handing off to siblings Trevon and Rashod Raymore. Trevon ran six times for 69 yards — the last a tough 11-yard TD where he stretched the ball over the line for six points.

The hold was mishandled on the extra point try, but it was 20-14 with 7:50 left.

The Tornadoes got two more possessions — but Livingston’s interception at midfield with 2:56 left sealed the win, as the Truckers followed with two first downs to run out the clock.

“We’ve been down before and done some things, but it’s the first time we’ve come back and taken a lead and finished it,” MacFarland said. “But I knew they had that in them all year. I love that the seniors get to taste that.

“It was fitting, because they had adversity early, figured it out, kept playing together and stayed together as a team,” he added. “And that was how they got this win for our seniors on their way out of the program.”

It was ironically a win over the Tornadoes that gave Norwalk it’s first official league win as members of the Sandusky Bay Conference. Until Friday, the two had played yearly since 1954 as members of the Northern Ohio League.

Trevon Raymore ran 30 times for 158 yards, and unofficially finished with 1,239 yards and 14 TDs in nine games this season. He also unofficially edged out Sandusky’s Terion Stewart to lead the SBC Lake in rushing for the season.

Ehrenberg was 9-of-19 passing for 146 yards and a TD, with Livingston catching five passes for 64 yards, and Josh Welfle adding three catches for 73 yards.

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