NORWALK -- Senior tri-captain and running back Clifford Joseph made his final home game at Norwalk High's Sam Testa Field one he'll never forget.
Joseph rushed for 129 yards on 35 carries while scoring two touchdowns, leading Norwalk to a 20-6 victory over Stamford High Friday night.
"Before the game, (Norwalk coach Sean Ireland) told me to make my last home game special," Joseph said. "He said `Do your job. Take care of the football. And we'll be fine.' "
And so it was. Norwalk (4-5, 3-5 FCIAC) kept its hopes alive for a winning season by dominating the time of possession with 59 running plays for 195 yards along with just four passes. With no turnovers and just one motion penalty.
Stamford (2-7, 2-6 FCIAC) managed only 29 plays in the contest played in cold, windy conditions.
"Our plan was to simply keep it away from the Stamford High offense since their running back (Cameron Webb) and their quarterback (Jalen Brown) are so explosive," Ireland said. "We succeeded in keeping the ball out of their hands. Clifford Joseph can always be on my team. He's such a workhorse as a runner. He never complains about too many carries. The Stamford High defense wore down. Clifford Joseph didn't."
Passing isn't Norwalk quarterback Andrew Huzina's strong suit. But he ran Norwalk's full house backfield offense to perfection Friday night.
Norwalk made no secret about its game plan.
After the opening kickoff, the Bears had a 17-play 72-yard march -- all on the ground -- capped by Ricky Meija's one-yard touchdown plunge with 1:48 left in the first quarter. Huzina's two-point run made it 8-0 as the drive consumed 10 minutes on the clock.
Stamford's offense managed three plays in the first quarter and just eight plays (two punts) in the second period.
Norwalk had possession for over six minutes during a 12-play, 46-yard drive. Joseph scored from one yard out just 47 seconds before intermission for a 14-0 lead.
Stamford made its only stand of the night after taking the second half kickoff.
The Black Knights went 65 yards in eight plays. Webb scored on a three-yard run, but the conversion kick failed, leaving Norwalk ahead 14-6.
Norwalk senior tri-captain and OL/DL Corey Barrett (6-foot-2, 255 pounds) injured his right ankle early in the drive and didn't return the rest of the contest. Read Full Article
However, Norwalk responded immediately to the challenge.
With Stamford kicking off at its own 25 due to a penalty, a solid return by 5-foot-9 Yesid Rodriguez put Norwalk's offense in business at the SHS 32.
Eight running plays and 4 1/2 minutes later, the Bears were in the end zone on Joseph's seven-yard TD run. The run for two-points failed, leaving Norwalk up 20-6 with 2:40 left in the third quarter.
"Our offensive line did a great job all game long," Joseph said. "I just followed them through the holes. It was hard-nosed football. And we simply wanted it more."
Stamford's next drive ended with an interception by Norwalk's Dakari Eason at the Bears 14 with 11:13 left to play.
Stamford's exhausted defense had nothing left to give.
Norwalk put together a 17-play drive that consumed nine minutes, but ended at the Stamford 22 with 1:42 to go.
"Our preseason goal was to have a winning season," Ireland said. "And that dream is still alive."
It won't be easy as Norwalk finishes with road clashes at Staples and at city-rival Brien McMahon on Thanksgiving.
Stamford, which hurt itself with penalties on both sides of the ball, had few silver linings.
"We knew Norwalk would run. We couldn't stop them," said Stamford coach Jamar Greene. "We had no work ethic. We had no intensity. We had too many kids who didn't want to play in the cold. Our offense couldn't get anything going. It's back to the drawing board. We need to make changes. We need to start playing the younger kids who want to be out there."
Norwalk 20, Stamford 6
STAMFORD 0 0 6 0--6
NORWALK 8 6 6 0--20
N -- Ricky Meija 1 run (Andrew Huzina run)
N -- Clifford Joseph 1 run (run failed)
S -- Cameron Webb 3 run (kick failed)
N -- Joseph 7 run (run failed)
Records: Stamford 2-7, 2-6; Norwalk 4-5, 3-5.