notches another shutout
Devils blank Norwich
BY KEVIN STEVENS
Press & Sun-Bulletin
Two weekends, two shutout
victories and most all is well in Chenango Forks football
Forks made its way clear of a
highly regarded Norwich squad on Saturday, 14-0, thanks in large
part to a take-charge ground game, a slew of clutch third-down
conversions and a defensive unit that appears to have the
makings of this team's backbone.
Farnham struck first on a 15-yard touchdown reception from Tim
Batty midway through the opening quarter of the non-league
contest, and Tim O'Branski dashed 41 yards for a score on the
opening play of the fourth for the Blue Devils.
Not since the 2000 season has a
Section 4 opponent gotten the better of Forks. And it is rapidly
becoming apparent that downing the Devils in 2003 will be no
easily accomplished feat.
"The concern was certainly
with (quarterback) Batty and their option game," Norwich
coach John Pluta said. "They were better than we were up
front. If you're better than we are up front, you're going to
run the ball against us a little bit."
And run Forks did, to the tune
of 274 yards.
Oh, and there was Forks'
The Blue Devils converted
thrice on third down on their opening possession, which began at
their 29-yard line and ended with Batty tossing a ball toward
the home sideline that Farnham caught at about the 5 and carried
across the goal line for a 6-0 lead.
To keep that drive going, Batty
connected with Zach Vredenburgh for a
7-yard gain on third-and-6, and fullback Joe Babcock gained 10
on a third-and-1 from Norwich's 37.
The touchdown play? That was
The Tornado-quelling trend
would continue in the second quarter, most notably following a
brilliant defensive stop.
Norwich took possession on the
second play of the quarter following a punt at Forks' 48. Six
running plays set up first down from just outside the 10-yard
line. But on fourth down from about the 5 1/2, Forks defenders
Farnham, Chris Pease and Babcock answered the call to stop
Justin Frink for virtually no gain.
Forks took over, but after a
pair of 1-yard gains by Babcock, stared down third-and-8.
Enter Batty, who first looked
to pass, then took off toward the Norwich sideline. He got past
Eric Stratton after Stratton seemed to have headed off his path,
and zig-zagged his way to the 34-yard line.
"A lot of that is
Timmy," Forks coach Kelsey Green said. "We had a great
goal-line stand and we had lost field position, then, there he
goes. That's just God-given."
Later on that drive, with Forks
looking at fourth-and-8 from the Tornado's 33, a
Batty-to-Vredenburgh pass completion was good for 12 yards. Two
plays later, Batty threw to the end zone for Farnham, but
Norwich's Zakrevsky intercepted with 58 seconds to play in the
Forks' first possession of the
third quarter began at its 37 and reached Norwich's 6 when, on
fourth down, Batty converted a 24-yard field goal. However,
Norwich was whistled for roughing the kicker, and the Devils
opted to erase the points in favor of first down at the 3.
The move backfired when Forks
lost a fumble on the next play, and Norwich's Mike Abbott
returned to the Tornado's 35.
Norwich was called for roughing
just moments later, with Forks in punt formation from its
44-yard line. Two plays later, O'Branski accepted a handoff in
motion toward Forks' sideline. He sped through an attempted
shirt tackle near the line of scrimmage, turned upfield, cut
back toward the center and won a race across the goal line.
Batty hit Farnham with a
two-point pass for the final points.
Norwich, playing without top
running back Nate Farnsworth -- injured during the week in
practice -- took its ensuing possession to Forks' 11-yard line.
But a motion penalty, followed by Vredenburgh's fourth-down sack
of Jordan Alger, ended that threat.
Babcock was the primary running
threat for Forks, pounding away for the majority of his 106
yards between the tackles.
"Joe's a tough kid,"
Green said. "He got some nice blocking up front, with Steve
Samson, Matt Faughnan, Adam Phoenix, Pease, Alex Williams and
Jon Preston. Norwich had an eight-man front with good kids, yet
we had some nice holes to run through sometimes."
1st photo caption & credit:
The Forks' Ben Farnham has perfect position on Norwich's Eric
Stratton on a third-and-9 pass from Tim Batty. Farnham hauled it
in, a 15-yard scoring play on Forks' first possession, en route
to a 14-0 victory Saturday over visiting Norwich. - , Jim
Sanchez, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
2nd photo caption & credit: Norwich
running back Justin Frink, who is 5-foot-8, 165 pounds, squeezes
through the tackle attempt of Chenango Forks' Joe Babcock,
right, and Matt Faughnan, who is 6-foot-2, 268 pounds, during
Saturday's game. Frink had 26 yards rushing on seven carries.
Forks won the game, 14-0.
Sanchez, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin