from the The Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin and the Norwich
follow next on this page (Norwich article NOT uploaded yet). Both papers also had some preview articles
for the game. Those articles are after located
Devils hold off determined Tornado
4 FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS
Press & Sun-Bulletin
BINGHAMTON -- While it may
not have been vintage Chenango Forks football, the result Friday
night was status quo.
The Blue Devils completed a
second consecutive unbeaten trek to Section 4's Class B
championship, victory No. 10 coming by 28-7 over Norwich in a
tussle the likes of which Forks hadn't encountered for a lengthy
string of weekends.
But here are the Devils, back
where most everyone in the know believed they'd be, embarking on
another state title chase.
Next up will be a state
quarterfinal against the Section 3 (Syracuse area) champion,
either Solvay or Oneida, at 5 p.m. Friday at Union-Endicott.
Senior fullback Kelsey Jenks
rushed 25 times for 165 yards and three touchdowns, the second
of which punctuated Forks' most significant drive of the night
midway through the third quarter at Binghamton Alumni Stadium.
"This isn't the end right
here, hopefully it's just the beginning," Forks quarterback
Matt Juriga said.
"This is just what we
wanted. We have a goal to win the state championship," said
Jenks, who was part of last season's Class B state runner-up.
Norwich coach John Pluta said,
"I think we're pretty good, but they're great."
The Purple Tornado (8-2),
Section 4 football's comeback story of the year coming off a
winless 2001 season, indeed made a ballgame of it.
The contest began as so many
have this year for Forks, with its defense dictating a
nothing-happening three-and-out series by Norwich and the
offense responding with a six-play, 54-yard drive capped by
Jenks crashing over a defender to complete a 3-yard scoring run.
Tim Batty added the PAT kick
and it was 7-0 with 3:21 elapsed.
Thereafter, the going got
considerably tougher for the Blue Devils, masters of the
one-sided win and a team whose reserves had gotten so much
playing time week after week.
Forks' second possession ended
with a punt, giving Norwich possession at its 12-yard line. From
there, the Purple Tornado traveled 78 yards on 16 plays, and
faced fourth down and less than a yard.
But the Blue Devils' defense
held, stopping Andy Reid for no gain on a running play inside
and taking over the football at the 10.
"It defines our character
a little bit," Juriga said. "Coming up with a stop
like that, fourth-and-inches or whatever it was, it really tells
a lot about our team and the maturity we have. We're not going
to give up on anything, we're going to keep fighting.
"Inside that 20 is our
zone, and everybody knows that."
"That was one of the two
turning points in the game," Pluta said, adding that Forks'
second half-opening drive was the other.
Forks' offense, plagued on this
night by an uncharacteristic number of penalties, rewarded the
defense for its efforts by going 90 plays on a mere seven plays.
Juriga kept the football outside for a 29-yard gain to the
1-yard line, and sneaked in for a touchdown with 6:35 to play in
the second quarter. Batty's kick made it 14-0.
Norwich had gained the Blue
Devils' full attention, and Forks took to the locker room for
intermission acutely aware this thing was far from decided.
"At halftime, we all knew
we weren't playing our best game, and we knew we had to step it
up, set the tone early in the second half and things would fall
into place from there," Juriga said.
Forks established the tone,
alright, setting up shop at its 20-yard line to start the third
quarter and piecing together a workmanlike 15-play drive that
ate up six minutes and 14 seconds.
All the work was done on the
ground, and the largest chunks were gained by Jenks with a
15-yard gain on the first play, and by the Juriga-Drew Batty
duo, teaming for 16 yards on an option play that brought the
ball to the 6-yard line.
Two plays later, Jenks blasted
through the middle for a 2-yard touchdown and Batty added the
PAT to make it 21-0.
From that point, a game Norwich
group had a considerable uphill climb against what some believe
to be the finest defense in Section 4.
"That was what we talked
about in the locker room," Forks coach Kelsey Green said.
"That was the way were going to start the second half. It
didn't have to be fancy. If it's going to take four downs, then
it's going to take four downs. But we're going to go down and
score, and that's what we did."
"We planned on scoring on
the first drive, try to take them out, and we did," Jenks
Pluta said, "That drive
they put on, took six minutes off the clock, that was just a
great drive on their part -- and I thought our kids played some
good defense on that drive. They overpowered us."
Forks' final TD came on a
6-yard rush by Jenks on the opening play of the final quarter.
Norwich averted the shutout
when Garrett Bilow carried in from the 1 on the second-to-last
play of the game.
"It didn't surprise
me," Green said of the fight put up by Norwich. "It
might have surprised some of the kids, especially because it
started easy just like the last 5-6 games -- and that's exactly
how it's been starting.
"Then we started having
our holding penalties, and they moved the football."
Juriga said, "No one's
perfect. We haven't made a lot of mistakes this season. Tonight
we made a few mistakes, but we did come together as a team,
that's what was important."
Photo caption: Chenango Forks'
Kelsey Jenks holds off Norwich's Chris Tom's tackle attempt in
the first quarter Friday night at Binghamton Alumni Stadium.
Jenks rushed for 165 yards as Forks cruised to the Section 4
Class B title with a 28-7 victory - Jim Sanchez - Binghamton
Press & Sun-Bulletin photo