Norwalk reached the playoffs in the third year of the OHSAA tournament format in 1974, winning two games to win the Class AA state championship. Norwalk then endured the longest playoff drought at the time, not reaching Week 11 again until the 2013 season.
Below is a look at the previous eight playoff games in chronological order:
Nov. 15, 1974
Norwalk 20, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 7
AKRON — All the talk entering Norwalk’s first-ever playoff game was the disadvantage entering the Class AA state semifinal vs. Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.
The game was played at the former Akron Rubber Bowl, a venue just six miles from SVSM High School, and where the Fighting Irish had played several home games.
None of it mattered.
The Truckers (10-1) dominated from start to finish, holding the Fighting Irish to just two first downs through three quarters. Two short touchdown runs by Dan Hipp and a third from John McCarty had Norwalk rolling to a 20-0 lead.
Norwalk’s third score capped a lengthy 17-play, 65-yard drive that lasted more than eight minutes. The Irish didn’t score until a 23-yard TD pass with just 29 seconds remaining in the 20-7 victory.
Nov. 22, 1974
Norwalk 27, Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas 17
DAYTON — The Truckers fumbled the ball twice in their territory and committed 40 yards in penalties in the first quarter alone in the Class AA state championship game vs. Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas at Welcome Stadium in Dayton.
That led to a 10-0 deficit midway through the second quarter. However, from there, Norwalk (11-1) steamrolled to the school’s first state title.
A 9-yard TD run by McCarty cut the deficit to 10-7, and a 25-yard TD pass from Hipp to Ed Arlin pushed the lead to 14-10 by halftime — a score set up by a Knights fumble at their own 30.
Norwalk drove 58 yards in nine plays to take a 20-1- lead in the third quarter when Hipp found Randy Stower on a 16-yard TD pass. Aquinas pulled within 20-17 when it scored off a 31-yard short field from yet another Norwalk fumble to put the game in doubt entering the fourth quarter.
Norwalk came back to clinch the championship with a 9-play, 72-yard scoring drive with McCarty scoring from 12 yards out with 6:34 left.
Norwalk outgained Aquinas 268-114 in total offense, with Brad Mason rushing 18 times for 110 yards. It was head coach Bob Hart’s 50th win, and he was carried off the field on the shoulders of his players while holding the gold trophy.
Nov. 8, 2013
Columbian 34, Norwalk 28, 2OT
TIFFIN — The longest playoff drought in OHSAA football ended in heartbreak in a Division III first-round game at Northern Ohio League rival Columbian.
Trailing 34-28 in the second overtime with 2nd-and-goal at the Columbian 3, Norwalk QB Jordan Johnson saw the snap sail over his head, which led to a 32-yard loss. Two plays later, a last ditch pass fell incomplete to end the game.
Norwalk led 21-14 with just under six minutes left in the fourth quarter, but allowed a 71-yard TD pass on third-and-12 to tie the game with 5:22 left. Both teams then missed long field goal attempts to force overtime.
All-time leading rusher and Mr. Football finalist Breck Turner scored on the first play of the overtime for Norwalk (9-2), but the Tornadoes followed suit on their first play to tie it at 28. Tiffin then scored in three plays for a 34-28 lead — but missed the PAT, which set up the Norwalk fumble to end the game.
Turner ran 23 times for 128 yards and 3 TDs, while Johnson was 8-of-12 passing for 134 yards with a TD and added 52 yards rushing and a score.
Nov. 7, 2014
Norwalk 42, Perkins 34
NORWALK — Hosting a Div. III playoff game for the first time ever, the Truckers were involved in their second straight shootout in the postseason against a familiar foe.
After a back-and-forth first half against the Pirates, the Truckers found themselves down 28-27 and faced with a third-and-19 midway through the third quarter.
Turner then asserted himself, hurdling a defender and outrunning three more on a 67-yard TD run for a 35-28 lead. QB Marcus McClain added a 28-yard scoring run with a minute left in the third quarter to make it 42-28.
The Norwalk defense then turned away the Pirates in the fourth quarter on fourth-and-goal at the Norwalk 8, and with under 90 seconds left on a Seth Staley interception at the 28.
Turner ran 27 times for 171 yards and 2 TDs, while McClain ran 14 times for 100 yards and a score while completing 8-of-12 passes for 119 yards and three scores.
Nov. 14, 2014
Clyde 35, Norwalk 24
PERKINS TWP. — Leading 24-21 early in fourth quarter, Norwalk had Clyde in a third-and-21 at the 34 — but similar to the 2013 loss at Tiffin, gave up a long scoring play (66 yards) that gave the Fliers the lead for good.
Clyde took a 35-24 lead with 5:32 left for the final scoring. The Fliers had settled for a field goal to keep it a one score game, but the Truckers were penalized for roughing the kicker to put Clyde’s offense back on the field.
Norwalk led 17-14 at halftime after settling for a short field goal. The Truckers (11-1) turned it over at the Clyde 30 to set up the Fliers for a 21-17 lead, but an 80-yard scoring drive with McClain going in from 7 yards made it 24-21 with 3:22 left in the third.
In his final game, Turner ran 28 times for 213 yards and a TD, while McClain ran 31 time for 170 yards and a score. Turner ran for 2,795 yards and 32 TDs in 2014, and 5,676 yards and 79 TDs in his career.
Nov. 2, 2018
Norwalk 42, Bowling Green 14
NORWALK — After two straight losses to end the regular season, the Truckers (8-3) never looked back in blasting the visiting Bobcats in the Div. III first round.
Norwalk got a big fourth-down stop on the opening possession of the game, and scored on its second play, a Garrett Chapin-to-Ryan Sowders TD pass.
A Bowling Green fumble deep in Norwalk territory set up a 91-yard scoring drive. Chapin then found Brandon Haraway in stride for a 48-yard TD pass to make it 21-0, and Trevon Raymore’s second short TD of the half put the Truckers up 28-0 and the rout was on.
Chapin finished 14-of-19 passing for 176 yards with 2 TDs, while Haraway caught seven passes for 99 yards in rainy, muddy conditions. Raymore added 116 yards and two scores on 19 attempts.
Nov. 9, 2018
Norwalk 56, Rocky River 7
NORTH RIDGEVILLE — On a bitter cold, snowy night, the Truckers held just a 14-7 lead at halftime of a second-round game against the Pirates.
But it changed in a hurry in the second half.
Norwalk (9-3) blitzed the Pirates (7-5) to the tune of a 42-0 margin in a 17-plus minute span of the second half in a 56-7 win.
Ethan Phillips took the opening kickoff of the second half 49 yards to the Rocky River 40-yard line. Raymore then ripped off a 39-yard run to the 1 on the first play from scrimmage, and Chapin scored from a yard out.
Norwalk got two more TD runs from Raymore, and two from Evan Stumpf down the stretch to pull away in the blowout win.
Raymore ran 23 times for 192 yards and 3 TDs, plus an 8-yard TD catch. Chapin was 5-of-10 passing for a TD and an interception, while also rushing six times for 49 yards and a TD. Stumpf ran eight times for 61 yards and the two fourth quarter scores.
Nov. 16, 2018
Norwalk 20, Sandusky 17
BELLEVUE — An SBC Lake Division rematch between the Truckers and Blue Streaks lived up to the billing in the Region 10 championship game at Bellevue.
The Blue Streaks (8-4) struck first, but Norwalk answered with a lengthy 15-play, 70-yard scoring drive that took six-plus minutes with Raymore scoring from 7 yards out.
Sandusky led 14-10 at halftime — marking the first time the Truckers had trailed in three playoff games.
Norwalk cashed in on a Sandusky fumble in the form of a 6-yard TD run by Alec Maloney for a 17-14 lead, but the Streaks tied it on a field goal to make it a tie game entering the final 12 minutes.
Norwalk answered with a 29-yard field goal by Garrison Smith with 9:19 left in the game for a 20-17 lead. Down the stretch, the Truckers turned away the Sandusky offense on three straight possessions, capped by Jake Sommers’ interception with 1:13 left to seal the win and send Norwalk back to the state semifinals.