NORWICH -- A week after one of the more disappointing losses in recent Norwich history, the Purple Tornado rebounded with a breakthrough victory against one of Section 4's pre-eminent programs.
Grant Brightman rushed for a pair of touchdowns and Norwich's defense forced four turnovers in a 20-7 victory over visiting Chenango Forks in a non-league football contest played in heavy rain Friday night.
Seth Thomsen added a touchdown run for Norwich (2-1), which beat the Blue Devils for the first time since 1999, when the Purple Tornado beat Forks, 40-14, en route to a Section 4 Class B title.
"I have so much respect for their program," said Norwich coach John Martinson of a Forks program that has won nine Section 4 titles and a pair of state Class B titles over the past 10 years. "So you knew how much it meant to these kids.
"They knew it had been (a long time)."
Brightman scored both his touchdowns in the second quarter.
His 3-yard touchdown run capped an eight-play, 32-yard drive. It was set up by a 12-yard run in which he broke several tackles near the line of scrimmage. The touchdown put Norwich ahead, 6-0, with 7:42 left in the second quarter.
Forks went three-and-out on its next possession, and Norwich struck again after taking over on its 45-yard line.
Brightman opened the drive with another hard-earned 12-yard run, and Thomsen connected on a 13-yard pass to Patrick Taylor on third-and-9 to the Forks' 9-yard line before Brightman plowed in for his second touchdown to make it 14-0 with 1:29 left in the half.
Forks opened the second half with easily its best drive of the game, an 11-play, 52-yard march that culminated with an 8-yard TD run by Alec Fleicher with 6:55 left in the third quarter.
But Forks had its most damaging of its four turnovers early in the fourth quarter, when Lukas Aston fumbled deep in Blue Devils' territory. Norwich's Matt Lippa recovered at the Forks' 11-yard line.
Five players later, Thomsen scored on a 1-yard run with 6:55 remaining to secure the victory.
For Forks (2-2), the defeat continues a maddeningly inconsistent season in which it has alternated decisive victories and losses.
"I'm going to start looking at myself; we'll all take part of the blame," Forks coach Dave Hogan said. "We have to get off this roller coaster.
On the heels of a 12-6 loss the previous week to a Sidney team that was handed a 73-14 season-opening loss by Johnson City, there was little to suggest that Norwich would enjoy the success it had Friday night.
Especially when Forks recovered the game's opening kickoff at the Norwich 25-yard-line, the Blue Devils' Joe Fassett jumping on a ball that landed at the 20 and took a big bounce away from a Norwich kick returner.
But Norwich withstood the scoring threat, part of a fine defensive night in which it limited Forks to 153 yards of offense.
"We were real disappointed last week with our performance and it motivated us," Thomsen said. "We knew we couldn't be that bad; we had to play better."