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Norwalk overcomes turnovers in road win

By JOSH MORGRET • Sep 7, 2018 at 11:07 PM

PORT CLINTON — It wasn’t the cleanest of games.

But on the road against a team that has had success over the last few years, Norwalk took it.

The Truckers (2-1) jumped out to an early lead and used three key interceptions in the fourth quarter to top Port Clinton, 24-7, in non-league action on Friday at True-Lay Stadium.

"We feel very fortunate to get out of here with a victory against a very good football team with how sloppy we played at times," Norwalk coach Todd Fox said. "We play a couple quarters of good football then a couple quarters of not so great football. We have to clean that up."

Ryan Sowders recorded three interceptions — all in the fourth quarter — for Norwalk, while Kaden Livingston had one in the first half.

"Defensively, our secondary did a nice job," Fox said. "Overall, our defensive effort really shut them down."

The Truckers jumped on the board early. Sophomore quarterback Garrett Chapin kept the ball on a sweep and went over the left side and scampered 39 yards into Port Clinton (1-2) territory. Two plays later, he hit Brandon Haraway for 20 yards then Trevon Raymore covered the final 10 yards for a touchdown and 7-0 lead.

After the Redskins punted, Norwalk was inside Port Clinton territory when Chapin found Haraway behind his defender for a 42-yard TD. Garrison Smith added his second of three extra points for a 14-0 lead with 3:41 left in the first quarter.

"I do not think we were able to run the ball consistently," Port Clinton coach Beau Carmon said. "It forced us into passing situations and we had a lot of dropped balls. The pass protection broke down at bad times."

Port Clinton looked to respond on its next drive. The Redskins went 36 yards in seven plays, but it was halted when Livingston intercepted Colton Klima near the goal line and returned it 45 yards into Port Clinton territory.

The Truckers could not cash in and the teams exchanged punts. Chapin then connected with Raymore, but it was fumbled and the Redskins recovered. It was the first of six fumbles on the night for Norwalk, four of which were lost.

"It was a lack of focus," Fox said of the fumbles. "We did not do the little things."

Port Clinton did make the most of the fumble. Gunar Zink hauled in a 12-yard pass from Klima before Klima found Zayne Manning in the end zone for the score. Hunter Mominee tacked on the extra point to slice the Norwalk lead in half.

The Truckers had one more push just before halftime, wisely using their timeouts to their advantage. They drove to the Port Clinton 23-yard line before two incomplete passes left just six seconds on the clock. But, Smith was good from 40 yards to give Norwalk a 17-7 lead at halftime.

"We came out and felt good," Fox said. "We liked the way we were able to play until we started making miscues and silly penalties."

The winds and rains increased in the second half, forcing both teams into sloppier play and a plethora of turnovers. After a scoreless third quarter, Sowders intercepted Klima for the first time with 7:04 left in the game, but Raymore coughed it up two plays later.

Port Clinton got all the way down to the Norwalk 11-yard line before Klima threw two incompletions before a second interception by Sowders. This time, it was just one play later when Raymore fumbled.

The Redskins settled for a field goal opportunity after starting at the Norwalk 16-yard line, but Mominee's attempt was wide left. Norwalk punted on its next possession, and Sowders finished off the trifecta when he nabbed a pass from Max Brenner, who replaced an injury Klima, to finish the game.

"These guys work hard and I have nothing but positive to say about their work ethic," Fox said. "We will get better."

Fox liked the way his team responded after a 32-6 road loss to Creston Norwayne last week.

"We talked all week that that game does not need to define us," Fox said. "The way we respond is what define us. We could have dropped our heads today after the fumbles, but we kept responding."

Chapin completed 13-of-19 passes for 194 yards. Raymore ran 19 times for 96 yards while Haraway caught five passes for 109 yards.

The Truckers are back home next week when they host Edison Friday at Whitney Field.

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