CRYSTAL FALLS—For much of the first quarter here Sept. 6, Norway was holding its own with Forest Park. The Knights had the ball for most of the first quarter and only trailed 8-0 midway late in the half.
But momentum turned decisively in the final 4:51: The Trojans scored three times for a 29-0 halftime lead, on their way to a 41-6 victory.
FP takes a 2-0 overall record into its Great Western Conference opener at unbeaten Hurley Sept. 20.
The Knights started strong with a 15-play drive, converted a 4th-and-8 and got to the Trojan 30 before losing the ball on downs. FP only had the ball briefly.
“In the second quarter,” said Coach Bill Santilli, “the tide turned—almost like at Bark River. We started playing much better, and the defense stepped up.”
The Trojans opened scoring on Lee Graff’s 7-yard run, and his two-point run put his team up 8-0.
The Red and Black defense held the Knights to one first down in the second quarter, and Forest Park scored again on a Graff 16-yard run with 4:51 left till halftime. Trojans, 14-0.
A few plays later, FP’s Raymond Tomasik forced a fumble and recovered it himself at the Norway 37. It led to Tomasik scoring on a 4-yard run. Graff’s two-pointer made it 22-0.
Forest Park got the ball back on downs at its 44 with 1:15 left. Austin Snell’s 30-yard run and several time-outs led to a bizarre final second of the half.
FP QB Jeff Johnson lined up for a field goal with the ball at the Norway 8 and 0.7 seconds on the clock. The ball was snapped, Johnson’s kick missed, and players started heading off the field. Wait a minute! Come back! The refs had whistled Forest Park for illegal motion. Untimed down.
The ball was moved back to the 13, and FP again lined up for a field goal with all zeros on the clock. But this time the snap went directly to Johnson, who passed to Tomasik for a 13-yard touchdown. Johnson’s kick made it 29-0 at halftime.
“That really was a good score for us with no time left,” Santilli said.
The Knights fought hard in the third quarter to get momentum back. They stopped FP’s offense after the kickoff and drove 57 yards on 13 plays to score on Austin Grayvold’s 1-yard run. 29-6.
The Trojans soon had their game back in tune. Graff scored his third TD of the night on a 12-yard run late in the third quarter, and Tomasik got his third score on a 4-yard run early in the fourth. That made it 41-6 and started the running clock.
Santilli praised his offensive line. “They opened up some huge holes, and we ran hard.” The defensive line stepped it up after the Norway TD drive. “We got back to business: We blocked better and ran hard.” A steady dose of Graff and Tomasik seemed to wear down Norway as the game went on.
“Defensively, we played aggressively and tackled well.”
Snell cramped up during the second half and left the game, but no injuries going into the Hurley game.
Team stats: FP, 350 yards (37-322 rushing, 3-7-28 passing); Norway, 145 yards (37-99 rushing, 6-16-46 passing). First downs: FP 15; Nor 8.
Offense: Rushing, Lee Graff, 13-157; Raymond Tomasik, 14-85; Austin Snell, 5-55. Passing, Johnson, 3-7-28. Receiving: Tomasik, 3-28.
Defense (tackles-assists): Graff, 6-4; Daniel Nocerini, 6-2; Tomasik, 6-2; Adam Hilberg, 5-3; Zach Aberly, 4-4. Forced fumbles: Tomasik, Hilberg. Fumble recovery: Tomasik. Sack: Graff.
• The Trojans travel to Hurley on Sept. 13. The Midgets are 3-0 after beating Lake Linden 30-20 on Sept. 7 and would have a clear path to the GWC title if they defeat the Trojans. Big game!
Knights 0 0 6 0 -- 6
Trojans 0 29 6 6 -- 41