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Age ain’t nothing but a number.
Just ask Racine Raiders longtime wide receiver Will Norwood. The 37-year-old Racine Case grad and former Division 1 college football player snagged two touchdowns to lead the hometown team to a 21-6 victory over the visiting Midway Marauders Saturday night at Historic Horlick Field.
It was the second consecutive victory for the 5-1 Raiders, who now must face the undefeated Chicago Birdgang this coming Saturday night at Horlick Field.
Teammates coming in clutch
Sometimes, experience and chemistry can matter just as much – or more – than blinding speed. Luckily, Norwood still has plenty left in the tank, and his connection with quarterback Mitch Farr has been built over several years.
Farr, who finished 13-for-24 passing for 176 yards, knew who he could trust late in the fourth quarter when he hit a leaping Norwood in the end zone with four minutes left to essentially put the game away.
“Norwood is a player, he’s a D1 guy, he’s lost maybe a step, but he’s still got it in him to go up and get balls,” Farr said. “We just trust all our guys. We have a crazy good receiving core, we got some good backs, and we have a good thing rolling. If I’m able to keep spreading the ball around, it’s going to be hard to stop us.”
Raiders running back Howard Triplett broke off some big runs and complemented the passing attack nicely. His 77 yards rushing on 15 carries included a four-yard touchdown late in the second quarter to give the Raiders a 12-6 halftime. But when the Raiders needed points, Farr knew he could find Norwood in third and long situations.
Norwood’s post-game remarks
Norwood, who was excited after the game because he doesn’t get interviewed that often, said he’s still going strong at age 37. He joked that he never really won any games playing at Case High School but still worked his way onto a Division 1 college football roster at Ohio University.
On the touchdown that pretty much broke Midway’s back, Norwood said it was a simple route. However, he used his supreme athleticism to leap high with two hands above traffic and haul in the football. Farr rolled to his left under no pressure and tossed a catchable ball for Norwood, who had a little fun after the touchdown catch, spinning the football in the end zone and rubbing his hands together next to it simulating a bonfire.
The pitch and catch came on 3rd and 13 from the Marauders’ 19-yard line, so an incompletion may have led to a turnover on downs, and Midway was only down 15-6 with plenty of time left in the game to come back.
“It’s the corner route, we see them man-to-man, so I broke it out to the back pylon, and he (Farr) put it up for me,” Norwood said. “I scored pretty much on the same play in the corner of the end zone in the first quarter. The offense was good. Mitch was spreading it around, and when the passing opened, that’s when my boy Triplett started balling. We open it up, so he can pound it down.”
Norwood credited the defense on holding the Marauders to only six points. He thinks if the defense can hold opponents under 12 points, the Raiders offense can definitely score more than 12 each game.
“When we get healthy on the O-line, we will be good, but we’re fine now,” Norwood said.
A tame performance for the Marauders
Midway’s only score came on a 43-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter.
Raiders kicker Alex Gonzalez pushed the lead to 15-6 with a 37-yard field goal with 8:45 left in the third quarter. The Marauders answered with a big pass play down to the Raiders’ 7-yard line, but a penalty and strong pass defense led to a turnover on downs with no points, a huge stop for Racine.
Farr tried to force a ball into the end zone on the Raiders’ next possession but was intercepted, and the game remained close.
But on the next Marauders’ drive, things broke down and resulted in a terrible punt that veered immediately into the Horlick Field bleachers and only traveled a couple yards. Farr capitalized a few plays later with the final touchdown to Norwood.
Jordan Danowski, a backup defensive back who doesn’t see the field often, came up with an impressive interception on the Marauders’ last gasp late in the game. The Raiders’ defense held Midway to only 191 total yards and only 37 on the ground.
Racine picked off the Marauders twice and tallied five sacks, including 2.5 from Gage Zahradnik. Anton Graham added a quarterback sack and 2.5 tackles for loss. J.D. Hardy led the Raiders with 7.5 tackles.
Graham, who won two national championships as a player with UW-Whitewater, recently got the head football coach job at Racine Case after 10 years as an assistant at Horlick.
“It was a team victory, that was big for us,” Graham said. “Defensively, we hold ourselves to a standard where we expect to show up and play every single game. Offensively, they found a rhythm running and throwing the ball. I’m excited as hell about what we can do moving forward.”
Graham, 33, said he’s played wherever he’s been needed this season, including two linebacker spots and defensive end.
“Whatever we gotta do to win, I’ll do it,” Graham said. “It’s a matter of trusting each other. As long as we trust the man next to us to do his job, we’ll be fine.”
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