With the game in control in the fourth quarter, Norwalk linebacker Alec Maloney intercepted a Huron pass attempt.
The 6-foot-2, 226-pound senior started to break for the end zone, and it appeared he willingly bulldozed a Huron offensive player. Maloney was able to stay on his feet, and he found a wall of blockers for a 37-yard interception return.
The score was a punctuation mark on a big second half as the Truckers scored four consecutive TDs in a 42-20 win over the Tigers at Whitney Field.
“I didn’t see him,” Maloney said of the Huron player. “I honestly didn’t see him … I just lowered my shoulder and that was the outcome. I saw the end zone and it was a full head of steam there.”
Norwalk also snapped a lengthy losing streak to Huron with Friday’s win. The two teams played for 53 consecutive years from 1958-2010 before the series resumed this season.
But from 1989-2010, Huron had won every single matchup — a 22-game streak.
“We scrimmaged them last year, and they really took it too us,” Maloney said. “That kind of woke us up and we had a big game against Mansfield (42-21 win). This year it was kind of the same thing … Mansfield really lit a fire under us and we got a big win tonight.”
Norwalk got a fast start, though the Tigers found their way back into the game.
The Truckers opened the game with something they didn’t do in a 21-10 loss on Aug. 31 at Mansfield: an actual scoring drive on offense.
Norwalk drove 69 yards in 11 plays while using 3:07 of the first quarter clock. Evan Stumpf found a hole, then followed a great block from receiver Ethan Phillips on his way to a 28-yard touchdown run.
The first of six Garrison Smith extra points made it 7-0 at the 8:48 mark.
Huron’s first play from scrimmage was a 19-yard loss, and the Tigers were buried at their own 1-yard line. Norwalk got a quick three-and-out, but Stumpf ran for 10 yards to the Huron 10 and fumbled it away to the Tigers.
But another defensive stop that netted in no yards from the 4-yard line again put Huron in a bad punting position.
With the ball at the Huron 34, the Truckers went six plays, with Stumpf scoring from four yards out for a 14-0 lead at the 4:26 mark.
However, the Tigers finally settled in and got back into the game.
The Tigers (1-1) were efficient with a 9-play, 80-yard scoring drive that took 3:14 off the clock. Huron QB Joey Brown scored on third-and-goal from the 1, and Luke Brown’s PAT cut it to 14-7 with 8:47 left in the half.
Huron then got an interception from Caden Monak, who returned it to the Norwalk 40. The Tigers had a big fourth down conversion from Brown to Jimmy Harkelroad, which set up a Brown-to-Drew Wennes TD pass of 9 yards with 4:18 left in the half.
But Norwalk got a quick response. The Truckers drove 69 yards again, this time in eight plays, with Stumpf again scoring from four yards out with 1:43 left in the half. That allowed them to take a 21-14 halftime lead.
“We wanted to go back and score there at the end of the first half,” Norwalk coach Todd Fox said. “We kind of shifted some things and probably waited too long to go back to our original game plan. I think our kids responded well, especially that score at the end that led to a big second half.”
After a defensive stop opened the third quarter, each teams traded possessions. Norwalk then cashed in with a 7-play, 55-yard scoring drive when Jake Sommers scored from a yard out. Smith’s kick made it 28-14 with 2:44 left in the third quarter.
Another trade of possessions resulted in a 70-yard scoring drive for the Truckers. Sommers had a 29-yard run, and three plays later, Stumpf broke four tackles and kept running on a 14-yard score — his fourth of the game. That put Norwalk in command, and Maloney three minutes later capped the scoring spree.
Until Huron’s Jake Ward scored with 21 seconds left with the backups in the game, the Norwalk defense kept the Tigers off the scoreboard in the second half.
“I have to give a huge shout out to (fellow linebacker) Josh Neuberger — he played a phenomenal game,” Maloney said. “And our defensive ends did a good job of containing. We had a meeting at halftime and really just told ourselves we needed to amp it up. We tightened it up and we pursued.”
Fox said the Truckers had to move their linebackers back some in the second half.
“Coach (Pat) Herron does a great job with small adjustments,” he said. “And our linebackers were just getting so nosey. But we needed to loosen them up and trust their speed — that if they (Huron) do run the ball, they could recover.”
Stumpf ran 24 times for 206 yards and 4 TDs for Norwalk. Sommers added 59 yards and a TD on seven attempts, and Maloney had eight rushes for 36 yards.
Quarterback Garrett Chapin was 13-of-24 passing for 146 yards, with Ryan Sowders catching five passes for 61 yards. Kade Staley had four catches for 40 yards, while Ethan Phillips had three catches for 37 yards.
Huron 0 14 0 6 — 20
Norwalk 14 7 14 7 — 42
NOR — Evan Stumpf 28 run (Garrison Smith kick)
NOR — Stumpf 4 run (Smith kick)
HUR — Joey Brown 1 run (Luke Wood kick)
HUR — Drew Wennes 9 pass from Brown (Wood kick)
NOR — Stumpf 4 run (Smith kick)
NOR — Jake Sommers 1 run (Smith kick)
NOR — Stumpf 14 run (Smith kick)
NOR — Alec Maloney 37 interception return (Smith kick)
HUR — Jake Ward 22 run (kick failed)