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Norwalk football 125 flashback: Truckers take curtain call following win

By JOE CENTERS • Updated Sep 4, 2019 at 4:46 PM

NORWALK — Last week Norwalk’s football players were hiding behind curtains after being manhandled by Edison in their season opener.

Friday night the Truckers took a curtain call following a 14-6 win over Huron in double overtime. It was the first overtime game in the history of NHS football, and the win also snapped a seven-game losing streak to Huron.

The Truckers last beat the Tigers, 30-28, back in 1980.

“I’ve been talking negative all week long, but I did it for a reason,” Norwalk coach Scott Thompson said. “We made some mistakes and took ourselves out of some opportunities in the first half, but these kids were not to be denied.

“It was a great victory for us. We beat a good team and we may be over the hump. Our kids didn’t stop tonight. They wanted the game bad. We told them all week, ‘you can do it.’”

Regulation ended in a 0-0 deadlock.

In overtime, each team gets the ball at the opposition’s 20-yard line.

Norwalk went on offense first and scored on six straight runs by senior fullback Lamar Mathews — the final run from the one on fourth down.

With Norwalk’s kicker, Jeff Phillips, on the sidelines with a knee injury since the first play of the game, the Truckers went for two points but quarterback Joey Thomas was stopped short.

Huron got it’s chance on offense and scored four plays as Leonard Broughton capped the drive with a four-yard run. Rhett Wennes attempted the PAT, which would have ended the game, but it was blocked by Matthews.

Norwalk went back on offense to start the second overtime.

After a five-yard penalty moved the ball back to the 25, Thomas ran the option on the first play and got down to the one. Matthews capped the drive with a short dive for the TD, and then added the two-point conversion for a 14-6 Norwalk lead.

Huron got its chance on offense, but quarterback Gus Johnson fumbled on the first play and Norwalk recovered to end the game.

After the game, the entire Norwalk team went to the bench and took a bow in front of the home fans.

“I love when they call my number,” said Matthews, a 6-1, 215-pounder. “We just really practiced mentally all week and we tried to cut down on the mistakes.

“I love when they get the ball to me in a clutch situation. This is the most excited I’ve ever been playing football.”

The only other time Matthews scored twice in a game was against Huron as a sophomore.

The Truckers held a 161-38 rushing advantage and a 246-130 edge in total yards against the Tigers. Thomas completed 6-of-13 passes for 65 yards — all of the completions coming in the first half.

Matthews was the game’s leading rusher with 66 yards in 17 attempts, while Chris Garcia carried nine times for 36 yards and Thomas had 34 yards in 15 tries. John Warner rushed eight times for 28 yards.

“Joey did a really nice job on the option tonight,” Thompson said. “We worked on three things all week — the option game, the passing game and the specialties.”

Thompson turned to Matthews in overtime.

“We ran 36 power trap inside and we ran the option,” he said. “He’s got the potential to get the ball on every play. The option is what took us down into that territory and gave us the opportunity to score.”

Thompson also singled out the play of the defense for shutting down Huron’s run-and-shoot.

“You can’t ask for more than what the defense gave tonight,” he said.

First-year Huron coach Tony Legend watched his team lose a heartbreaker for the second straight week. The Tigers lost their opener, 7-6, to Bellevue.

“I still have to be proud of the way the kids played,” said Legando, who congratulated the Norwalk players in their locker room following the game. “We’ll survive this.

“I have no excuses and the kids don’t either,” he added. “I’m a hometown boy and I was hired to get the job done. And I will. He (Thompson) did a heck of a job getting those kids ready after getting blown out last week.”

The Truckers (1-1) take to the road for the first time next Friday at Oberlin to wrap up the non-conference schedule. The following week, Norwalk opens its Northern Ohio League schedule at Tiffin Columbian. The Tornadoes, the two-time defending NOL champions, are winless after Friday’s 20-7 loss to Findlay.

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