Norwood running back Jordan Nielson stiff arms Soroco's Jacob Hange Friday night as the Mavericks beat the Rams, 41-20.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Norwood running back Jordan Nielson stiff arms Soroco's Jacob Hange Friday night as the Mavericks beat the Rams, 41-20.

Rams fall short of undefeated season

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Game statistics

Norwood Soroco

25 First Downs 12

67-480 Rushes-Yards 15-149

2-6-3 Comp-Att-Int 9-28-2

75 Yards Passing 125

405 Total Yards 274

2-1 Fumbles-lost 0-0

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Norwood 6-12-0-23-41

Soroco 6-8-6-0-20

SCORING SUMMARY

First Quarter

S - 6:30 Cody Miles 80-yard run. (Pass failed.)

N - 4:44 Zach Andrews 22-yard run. (Kick blocked.)

Second Quarter

N - 10:14 Seth Gabardi 1-yard run. (Run failed.)

S - 6:19 Alex Estes 11-yard pass from Miles. (Estes pass from Miles.)

N - 3:48 Gabardi 5-yard run. (Pass failed.)

Third Quarter

S - 1:18 Estes 95-yard interception return. (Pass failed.)

Fourth Quarter

N - 11:09 Andrews 28-yard run. (Andrews run.)

N - 3:23 Jordan Nielson 1-yard run. (Andrews pass from Gabardi.)

N - 0:19 Nielson 55-yard run. (Ty LaFramboise kick.)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing

N - Nielson 40-300, 2 TD; Andrews 15-131, 2 TD; Jaron Ragsdale 6-12; Gabardi 4-15, 2 TD; Bryan Hanner 1-23.

S - Miles 14-148, Jacob Hange 1-1, Estes 1-0.

Passing

N - Gabardi 2-6-3, 75 yards

S - Miles 9-25-2 125 yards, 1 TD

Receiving

N - Clay Grammar 1-30, Andrews 1-45.

S - Estes 5-68 1 TD, A.J. Anderson 1-5, Hange 2-29, Michael Rossi 1-25.

— Soroco football coach David Bruner didn't say it to be critical of his team's fourth-quarter effort, and he wasn't set on accusing Norwood of running up the score in Friday night's 41-20 home defeat.

He said it because although Soroco picked up its first loss of the season in its last game, missing out on a chance for the school's first undefeated fall in more than 40 years, he could feel nothing but pride in the way his team played.

"People are going to look at that, and they're not going to know," he said. "That wasn't a 20-point game.

"I'm awfully proud of my kids tonight."

Norwood, 8-0, remained undefeated thanks to a grueling running attack that gained nearly 500 yards. Soroco ended its season with a 7-1 record, one of the best in the program's history.

Norwood's physical style eventually took a toll on the Rams, and Norwood was able to add two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter to walk away with the seemingly comfortable win.

There was nothing comfortable about most of Friday night's clash, however.

The two previously unblemished teams traded blows throughout the contest. Soroco's high-water mark came late in the third quarter, when senior Alex Estes rejuvenated his team with a go-ahead 95-yard interception return for a touchdown.

That catch and long run - he dipped and ducked through what seemed like the entire Mavericks squad - put Soroco up 20-18 with 1:18 left in the third quarter.

Norwood's offense isn't called grueling for no reason, though. It had been methodically driving for the dagger-to-the-heart touchdown before Estes' interception, and it went right back to work afterward.

Jordan Nielson finished with an astonishing 300 yards on 40 carries and led the Mavericks straight down the field to open the fourth quarter, first to retake the lead and then to add insurance.

"Their guys were just so strong up front," Soroco senior lineman Gage Achtner said. "They could get three or four yards every time, and that really adds up."

That Norwood was able to ride its highly acclaimed running attack came as no surprise.

That Soroco couldn't manage to answer with its usually scintillating offense, however, did.

Rams quarterback Cody Miles took his team's first offensive play 80 yards for a 6-0 lead in the first quarter, and he hooked up with Estes from 11 yards out to tie the game at 12 in the second.

Mostly, though, Norwood applied the same physical mentality on defense that was so effective on offense.

Soroco didn't handle it much better.

The Mavericks cornerbacks jammed the Rams receivers, blocking them hard at the line of scrimmage and throwing Soroco's precision passing attack into disarray.

Norwood's defensive line hounded Miles all night, and its linebackers and safeties never lost sight of him. The senior rarely found room to run even when he managed to avoid a sack.

"We knew what he could do if he got some space, so we tried to keep the pocket tight around him," Norwood coach Tom LaFramboise said. "We played tough, but they played tough too. It was just a great game."

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