SYRACUSE – Taking in the biggest football setting for high school football in New York State, the Norwich Purple Tornado played the first game of the 2019 season at the Dome in Syracuse, New York in a Saturday edition of Friday night lights.
Going up against Section III Class A Indian River, Norwich hung in the contest through half time but the Warriors took over in the third quarter, where they secured the 53-27 win.
The Tornado’s quarterback Griffin Mills led the Norwich offense, despite the loss, as he compiled over 200 yards both on the ground and through the air, earning the team’s Most Valuable Player award for the game.
Mills, in his first game starting under the center, threw for two touchdowns and 155 yards on 13 completions in 24 attempts. On the ground, the junior quarterback ran took 12 carries for 116 yards and two scores.
“Griffin had a great game,” said head coach Mike Chrystie. “We have great play makers in Eli [Rodriguez, JT [Vinal], Carson [Maynard], and Cameron [Byrne] and he did a tremendous job of reading the defense and getting them the ball. He also made some impressive plays with his feet. We will need him to continue to be a dual threat QB for us.”
Norwich elected to receive the ball after winning the coin toss and took no time at all to take the ball down the field, capturing the early lead after Mills tossed the fade ball to wide receiver Carson Maynard for six as he kept possession of the ball by dragging the foot across the back of the end zone for the spectacular catch.
The Warriors started the first series of plays at the 35-yard line and needed just three minutes to tack on their first of seven touchdowns scored in the game as Indian River’s Rosario Acosto took the handoff into across the goal line from 20 yards out. After adding the two-point conversion, Indian River held the 8-7 lead with 6:35 left in the first quarter.
Forcing Norwich into a three-and-out following the kickoff, Indian River took the ensuing drive in for another score from three yards out as running back Justin Barker punched the ball into the end zone.
Mills used a quarterback keeper to score Norwich’s next two touchdowns, giving the Tornado a 20-16 lead with 5:15 remaining in the first half. The first of the two Mills’ keepers was set up by Eli Rodriguez’ strip with Acosto carrying the ball, stopping the Warriors’ from increasing the margin to three scores.
Just over two minutes later, Acosto punched his second touchdown in to give Indian River the advantage back with three minutes left in the half.
Receiving the kickoff to start the second half off the field, Indian River marched down the field and put up another six points on the score, once again recorded by the Warriors halfback Acosto.
Holding Norwich on several of their possessions, Indian River was able to capitalize each time to grow their lead, putting the game out of reach early in the fourth with Acosta’s fourth and final touchdown of the game...