Forks rolls to fifth straight victory
By Kevin Stevens
Press & Sun-Bulletin
NORWICH -- Methodically, powerfully and
with customarily widespread contributors, Chenango Forks
claimed a fifth consecutive football victory Friday
night, 23-0 over Norwich.
Three Blue Devils scored a touchdown
apiece, Dylan Warner added a third-quarter field goal,
and the defense turned in an effective-if-unspectacular
performance. Together, it amounted to a 4-0 record in
Division III and 6-1 overall for Section 4's five-time
defending Class B champions.
All that remains of Forks' regular season
is a trip to Windsor a week from today. Should the Black
Knights emerge from this afternoon's contest against
Chenango Valley with a win, Week 8 would mean a showdown
of Division III unbeatens.
On Friday, it was a workmanlike Forks
squad that, aside from a few too many mistakes for the
coaching staff's liking, simply took care of business on
a night it had the upper hand from a personnel
"I think up front is always key in a
Chenango Forks-Norwich football game," Blue Devils coach
Kelsey Green said, "and I think we maybe had a little
better of it there."
On the offensive side, the result was a
quartet of ball carriers who each gained 50 or more
yards; and scoring drives of 56, 70, 68 and 75 yards,
It was in the third quarter when Forks
put this one away.
Leading 14-0, the Devils returned the
second-half kickoff to their 32-yard line and proceeded
to put together their most physically dominant drive of
the chilly night.
Nine consecutive rushes averaged
7.3-yards-a-pop and brought the football to a position
just outside Norwich's 1-yard line. But on
fourth-and-goal, the guests absorbed an
illegal-procedure penalty and subsequently opted for a
24-yard field goal, which Warner smoothly converted for
a 17-0 spread.
A bit under seven minutes remained when
Norwich started the ensuing possession at its 15, and
ripped into Forks' defense just as the Devils had carved
up the Purple Tornado a possession earlier.
Eight rushes -- or, 7.4 yards per attempt
-- advanced the ball to Forks' 26-yard line. But on a
second-and-3 play, an attempted handoff went awry and
Forks covered a loose football at its 25-yard line.
"We moved the ball, had a nice drive
going, then made a mistake -- that's kind of been our
story," Tornado coach John Pluta said.
Call it a blunder that cannot happen, not
when trailing by 17 in the third quarter, and not
against a foe known to seize opportunity.
Forks went back to work, spreading the
rushing assignments about between Warner, Bryan Lance,
Joe Aston and Nick Stephens. That crew banged away at
the Tornado for a dozen rushes to arrive at Norwich's
13-yard line, from which point Warner took a handoff and
headed outside apparently looking to pass. Instead, he
kept toward Norwich's sideline and lunged across the
goal line for the final points with 9:12 remaining.
Of Forks' defense, which yielded 219
yards, Lance said: "They had a couple of big plays, a
couple things we couldn't seem to stop. But for the most
part, we shut them down up front."
The Blue Devils' halftime advantage came
about with Lance sneaking over left guard from the
1-yard line with 2:23 to play in the first quarter, and
Lance connecting with Jason Gildea for a 6-yard
touchdown pass 49 seconds before halftime.
Aston, a 186-pound junior, closed with 80
yards on 14 carries as Forks' rushing leader. Film study
will likely link many of the grass stains on the backs
of those purple jerseys to his ability to finish a run
in authoritative fashion.