Turner Led Truckers Overpower Shelby

By CHUCK RIDENOUR
Daily Globe Sports Editor

NORWALK - A title drought that spanned close to four decades was snapped Friday night at Whitney Field.

The Northern Ohio League championship which has eluded Norwalk since 1976 was no match for the elusive Breck Turner as the Truckers clinched a share of the crown by belting Shelby 49-12.

Turner, a senior speedster with cutback ability, steamrolled the Whippets for 265 yards on 24 carries and scored on runs of 45 and 14 yards for the 9-0 Truckers, who moved to 5-0 in the NOL.

"He's a really good football player," summed up SHS coach Erik Will about the conference's leading rusher with 2,229 yards and 26 touchdowns on the year. "From what I have heard, he's an even better young man. He's phenomenal and they have quite a bit more season left with him."

Holding Shelby on fourth-and-one from midfield, NHS didn't waste their second offensive opportunity of the game and scored in two plays - both runs by Turner.

On second and five, Turner took the handoff from Marcus McClain and ran right into a wall of Whippets, but he reversed direction and found no one in his way to endzone to complete the 45-yard scoring jaunt at the 6:59 mark. Samson Slack booted the first of seven successful extra-point kicks and Norwalk had a lead it would not give back.

SHS had an answer 76 seconds later, going 65 yards in four plays. The drive started with a 30-yard dash by freshman quarterback Brennan Armstrong and was capped with a 32-yard hookup between Armstrong and ninth grade teammate Carter Brooks to make it 7-6 as the PAT kick was wide right.

Norwalk widened its lead to 21-6 early in the second period on a 38-yard completion for Seth Staley from McClain. The Whippets made it 21-12 at the 9:39 juncture when Cody Stine gathered a slant pass of three yards from Armstrong.

An interception toward the end of the first half and a fumble into the endzone for a touchback to open the second half thwarted any hopes SHS had of making this an interesting game.

Trailing 28-12, Armstrong's screen pass was tipped and pulled in by Trucker Trevor Wright, who returned the theft 14 yards for a score and a 35-12 lead at the intermission.

Completions of 14 yards to Hunter Egner, 39 yards to Brooks and 11 yards to Stine put the ball inside the NHS 10 quickly to start the second half, but on third down Armstrong was nearing the goal line when he lost the ball and Norwalk recovered in the endzone.

"Those instances changed the complexity of the game. If we execute the screen pass, it stays a two-score game at the half and if we score on our first possession of the second half, then we have a game," said Will.

The Whippets were close to making it really interesting by forcing Norwalk to punt away its first possession and had the ball back out close to midfield.

Instead, the Truckers rose up by throwing SHS for losses totaling 12 yards on the first two plays and forced the red and gray to punt the ball away.

From there, Turner peeled off runs of 25 and 29 yards to help set up Nick Horner's one-yard run at the 5:44 to extend the lead to 42-12.

After being raked for 83 points a week ago by Tiffin Columbian, Will felt his defense played better.

"We really challenged our defense this week in practice and I felt they played better. They fought hard and a Division I running back and we made them earn it," said Will.

Norwalk outgained Shelby 497-297 in total yards and had a 23-12 advantage in first downs. The Truckers had 385 on the ground.

After nine weeks, Armstrong took over the passing lead in the NOL with 178 stripes to give him 1,511 on the season. He made 11 of 25 attempts. His top targets were Brooks with three catches for 85 yards and Stine with five hook ups for 65. The latter threw once out of a punt formation for 22 yards to Reed DeLauder.

Despite a 2-7 record, which includes several close calls this season, Will feels his club is on the verge of breaking loose and busting off some wins to bring back the bite in the Whippet program.

"We're closer than our record would indicate. Both teams played really hard and the difference is they made more plays. And because of that, you have to tip your hat to them," said Will as his club wrapped up league play with a 1-5 ledger.

Leading the SHS defense were Colten Harvey and Lucas Bihl with 14 and 10 tackles, respectively. Bihl also had a sack and an interception. Trevor Young also picked off a pass in the loss. Devin Williams and Derek Rose each had a hit for loss.

Shelby closes out the 2014 campaign next Friday at home against undefeated Loudonville. The Redbirds, who are averaging 53 points a game, stand a perfect 8-0 heading into their game today on the road at 7-1 Gilmour Academy.

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