But in Friday’s highly-anticipated SBC Lake Division game at Whitney Field, the senior running back followed his offensive line for a clinic of his own.
Stumpf ran the ball 37 times for 344 yards and three touchdowns, while the Norwalk offense totaled nearly 500 yards of offense in a 37-20 win over Sandusky.
The Truckers — ranked No. 12 in the latest Division III Associated Press state poll — improved to 6-1 overall and 2-0 in the Lake. Sandusky fell to 5-2, 1-1. With Columbian’s win over Clyde, the Truckers are alone in first place ahead of next Friday’s game at Perkins (3-4, 0-2).
Last year, Stumpf was the backup running back as Trevon Raymore ran for 406 yards and 6 TDs, and Blue Streak counterpart Terion Stewart went for 211 yards and 4 TDs in a 52-35 Norwalk win.
“It feels completely different (from last year), and I’m thankful for the opportunity, because I worked hard for it,” Stumpf said. “But last year I was a proud of watching Trevon, but it’s definitely a different feeling. This is probably one of my favorite nights of football I’ve ever experienced.”
On top of Stumpf, senior running back Alec Maloney ran eight times for 121 yards — capped by a 67-yard TD run with 9:03 left in the game for the final points of the night.
Senior offensive lineman Laurence Newland talked about blocking for Norwalk’s talented backfield.
“It’s awesome. It’s easy to block for two guys like that,” he said. “This was an electric atmosphere tonight. Our energy was high the whole game. We didn’t come out flat or finish flat, and I really think that was all we can ask for.”
After Norwalk turned the ball over on downs at the Sandusky 39 to open the game, the Blue Streaks grabbed their only lead of the game. They quickly covered 61 yards in five plays, as standout running back Terion Stewart ran for 30 yards to the 10 — then covered that distance the next play for six points.
The extra point from Michael Franklin put Sandusky up 7-0 at the 8:51 mark of the opening quarter.
Norwalk was just as quick to answer. The Truckers moved 77 yards in five plays, as Stumpf ran through a huge hole on the right side for a 42-yard TD run. The first of four Garrison Smith extra points tied the game at 7-7 with seven minutes left in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Smith’s leg again took center stage. An intermittent rain had picked up a steadier pace, and Norwalk was faced with a fourth-and-7 at the Sandusky 36.
But Norwalk coach Todd Fox sent out Smith to try the 53-yard field goal — and he boomed it with ease with at least five more yards of room when it cleared the goalposts.
Smith had broke the school record with a 50-yard field goal on Sept. 20 at Edison.
“I was asked by League (Elementary) principal Adam Kreischer when would we try something beyond 50 with him, which got me thinking,” Fox said. “And then tonight in pregame, he was good from 55 at the other end right down the middle with room to spare. He did the same thing in practice on Thursday.
“So we went for it and the kid answers the bell every single time,” he added.
Norwalk forced a three-and-out on the next Sandusky possession, but took over at its own 15. That didn’t matter for Stumpf and the run game, as he again sprinted to his right and found open field for a 53-yard scoring run for a 17-7 lead with 6:20 left in the half.
Another defensive stand got the Truckers the ball back, and Smith was called to kick from 43 yards. It was again no trouble, and Norwalk had a 20-7 lead with 2:41 left in the half.
The Blue Streaks stayed within striking range, however. Franklin connected with Noah Caston in the flat, and he was able to make a move and go up the left sideline for a 63-yard pass and catch TD with 1:47 left in the half.
The kick failed, but Sandusky managed to trail 20-13 at the break.
After both teams traded possessions to start the third, linebacker Ethan Hernandez intercepted Franklin at the Sandusky 30. Three Stumpf runs, the last from 12 yards out, put the Truckers in the end zone with 6:04 left in the quarter to lead 27-13.
Smith added a 31-yard field goal with 19 seconds left in the third quarter for a 30-13 lead. That proved important when Sandusky responded by covering 80 yards in just over two minutes.
Stewart scored from 2 yards out with 9:58 left in the game to put the Streaks within 30-20.
“It makes you really appreciate him — because a lot of kickers can’t do that,” Newland said of Smith scoring nine points from record distances. “He can really come in clutch and save the game for us if we need him to.”
Just two plays after the Stewart TD, Maloney put the game away with his 67-yard run to close out the scoring.
“They took away the pass from us, but led by our line, the run game was able to take over instead,” Fox said. “Evan had another impressive night, and then when we went to our two-back offense, in comes Maloney to stand out.
“If everyone is doing their job, great things can happen and it can be a lot of fun,” he added. “We gave up the big play before half, but other than that our defense played great.”
Quarterback Garrett Chapin was 8-of-15 passing for 47 yards for the Truckers, with Ryan Sowders catching three passes for 25 yards.
After rushing for 40 yards on two straight carries on the opening drive, Stewart was held to 40 yards rushing the rest of the game for Sandusky. He left once with a bothersome ankle injury and finished with 80 yards on 22 attempts.
“We’re excited, and we have to get back to work,” Fox said. “Last year we were rolling like this and lost the last two weeks, and we don’t want that. We want to get better.”
Sandusky 7 6 0 7 — 20
Norwalk 7 13 10 7 — 37
SAN — Terion Stewart 10 run (Michael Franklin kick)
NOR — Evan Stumpf 42 run (Garrison Smith kick)
NOR — Garrison Smith 53 field goal
NOR — Stumpf 53 run (Smith kick)
NOR — Smith 43 field goal
SAN — Noah Caston 63 pass from Franklin (kick failed)
NOR — Stumpf 12 run (Smith kick)
NOR — Smith 31 field goal
SAN — Stewart 2 run (Franklin kick)
NOR — Alec Maloney 67 run (Smith kick)