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HAZELWOOD: A closer look at the Clyde-Norwalk OT thriller

Mark Hazelwood • Updated Oct 22, 2018 at 5:01 AM

NORWALK — Thirty-one thoughts for 31 points scored by the Norwalk football team in Friday’s instant classic 32-31 overtime loss vs. Clyde at Whitney Field. The Fliers (7-2, 4-0) clinched a share of the SBC Lake Division championship with the win. Despite the loss, Norwalk (7-2, 3-1) moved up from third to second behind the Fliers in the Division III Region 10 ratings and will host a first-round game on Nov. 2.

1. On another night rain moved in just prior to kickoff, a mishandled return on the opening kickoff forced the Norwalk offense to start at its own 7-yard line. A quick three-and-out gave Clyde a 35-yard field to start. Ominous.

2. The Norwalk defense again proved its worth, forcing the Fliers into a fourth down at the 16 that resulted in an interception in the end zone by Kaden Livingston. The Truckers have 20 interceptions in nine weeks.

3. On it’s third offensive possession, Norwalk fumbled it away on the first play. The entire first quarter felt like a bad movie.

4. The defense again held the Fliers to just 18 yards, holding them to a 28-yard field goal and a 3-0 deficit. At the time, it felt like a huge win.

5. Trevon Raymore reeled off a 25-yard run as the rain intensified on the second play of Norwalk’s fourth possession — but he was tripped from behind and the ball came lose. Clyde again fell on it. It still got worse.

6. The defense made another stop, but as the rain reached its peak, Norwalk quarterback Garrett Chapin was sacked and a holding penalty had the Truckers at their own 12 on 2nd-and-18. And yet a third fumble this time was recovered by the Fliers in the end zone for a touchdown. It was 10-0 with less than eight minutes left in the half — and things were borderline catastrophic in such a big game.

7. Norwalk had an immediate answer. It took less than three minutes to drive 70 yards and make it a game again. The sign of a good team.

8. Faced with third-and-15 at the 39, a 32-yard pass from Chapin to Livingston was called back on offensive pass interference. Another setback ...

9. Now staring at third-and-30 from the 24 and down 10-0, Chapin threw another deep ball that was hauled in by Brandon Haraway for 49 yards. Wow. If there was any doubts on Norwalk’s ability and mental toughness to bounce back, those two plays erased them.

10. A short TD by Tche Leroux cut it to 10-7, and a three-and-out by the defense forced a Fliers punt attempt. Alec Maloney blocked it and the Truckers suddenly had the ball at the Clyde 10. Maloney was everywhere, also with numerous tackles, a sack and pass breakup at linebacker.

11. It took just two plays for Chapin to find Raymore for a 10-yard TD pass, and in less than two minutes the 10-0 deficit was a 14-10 lead. Everything was fine.

12. Norwalk got another stop, but a penalty and a sack again pinned the Truckers deep. Clyde got the ball at the Norwalk 43 with 1:09 left in the half and scored a TD in seven plays. The score with 28 seconds left in the half for a 17-14 Clyde lead is probably the most critical ‘not talked about’ sequence of the game in hindsight.

13. Norwalk forced yet another big three-and-out on defense to start the second half. An even bigger 35-yard run by Raymore put them in business at the Clyde 44. But a sack for a loss and a 15-yard personal foul penalty pushed the Truckers back 24 yards on one play.

14. Norwalk committed seven penalties for a costly 111 yards compared to just three penalties for 20 yards on Clyde. Another huge factor in a one-point game.

15. The Truckers had the ball just one other time in the third quarter — because they put together a drive of seven-plus minutes that went into the fourth quarter. It included two key fourth-down conversions while trying to erase the 17-14 deficit.

16. Another key underrated sequence was Norwalk set up with a first-and-goal at the Clyde 5 — but the Fliers held. Raymore left with an ankle injury in-between a pair of two-yard runs by Maloney.

17. Garrison Smith made the 19-yard field goal to tie the game with 10:53 left. A searing wind had picked up by then, and the kick just did get over for three points. It gets lost in the weekly writeups, but Smith has been as steady as they come at an important position. He’s 38-of-39 on extra points and has made four field goals in nine weeks.

18. The Fliers appeared to be driving toward another score, only for the Norwalk defense to again rise up to the occasion. Rather than try a 34-yard field goal, Clyde coach Ryan Carter kept his offense on the field with fourth-and-6 at the Norwalk 17. The Truckers strip-sacked Ryan Lozier, and Trey Leroux recovered.

19. With Raymore still out, Evan Stumpf ran twice for five yards, and a Chapin pass to Ryan Sowders was a yard shy with just under five minutes left.

20. I could hear many voices from the crowd wanting head coach Todd Fox to go for the first down there after converting two short fourth downs on the previous drive. But the risk was too high at the Norwalk 38 to try that in a tie game.

21. This led to an ‘out-of-character’ sequence in my opinion. The Fliers marched right down the field, covering 61 yards in four plays after essentially struggling to put together an offensive drive of 50 yards for three-plus quarters.

22. Trailing 24-17 with 3:16 left, things looked uphill. Then Ethan Phillips electrified the home crowd and stunned the Fliers with a 91-yard kick return TD — the second kick return TD for Norwalk in as many weeks. Smith tied it up at 24. Game on.

23. “Hit the PAT. We’ll be there in five minutes.” That was a text message following the Phillips kick return I got from St. Paul head coach John Livengood — somewhere on a bus on U.S. 20 coming back from a 49-0 win at Western Reserve — after he asked me for a scoring update at just the right time.

24. Riding momentum, Norwalk again forced Clyde off the field in three plays for -2 yards. But a big 47-yard punt by Cam Farrar pushed Norwalk back to its own 27 and just 1:10 left.

25. Norwalk briefly got to its own 40, but ultimately a sack ended any chance to get the last-second win. Overtime in Norwalk.

26. Haraway just missed a TD catch on the second play in OT after Norwalk got the ball first. Raymore and the line is so strong, a third-and-6 run right up the middle got them nine yards. He battled injuries for 163 yards and will finish with the second-best single-season total in program history.

27. Chapin and Haraway connected this time for a 9-yard TD — and again, Smith hasn’t gotten enough credit for his kicking. The PAT made it 31-24. Haraway had gone through a quiet stretch — but not this night. He had four catches for 82 yards, and they were all big.

28. Clyde fumbled the snap on its first play in overtime. The ball seemed like it sat on the grass for an eternity — but the Fliers recovered. Everyone quickly found out how huge that was.

29. Ryan Lozier-to-Adam Koviak, the latter an impressive leaping catch in the back of the end zone. Just a tough, ‘tip your cap’ play. Carter didn’t seem to hesitate in wanting to go for the 2-point conversion and the win, but called timeout to set up the play.

30. The Fliers ran a sweep to the right side of the field from the 3, and running back Braydi Clark was able to get to the end zone fairly comfortably. 32-31. Norwalk fell to 4-2 all-time in OT games.

31. I saw a Norwalk senior apologized on Twitter for the loss. Admirable — but not necessary. That was a lot of fun to be a part of and the effort by both sides cannot be questioned. A big trip to Tiffin Columbian (7-2, 3-1) awaits in the season finale — then just the fourth Week 11 in program history awaits. See you then.

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