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WEEK EIGHT FOOTBALL: Norwalk banks on Penny, McDowell and defense in another rout over John Glenn

By Loren Kopff

Norwalk senior wingback Rashaad Penny and junior wingback Ryan McDowell combined to touch the ball nine times last Friday night against city rival John Glenn. But the two stars of the Lancers offense made the most of their little work by scoring five touchdowns as Norwalk crushed the Eagles 60-6 at Excelsior Stadium to reclaim the Mayor’s Trophy for the 11th consecutive year.

Penny carried the ball five times for a game-high 168 yards and scored on an 86-yard run down the left sideline on the game’s second play and on a 59-yard run on Norwalk’s first play of the second quarter.

After picking up 12 yards on first carry, McDowell got into the scoring action with touchdown runs of 68 yards in the second quarter, seven in the third quarter and 45 yards in the fourth quarter. For McDowell, it was the second time in three games he has scored three touchdowns.

Norwalk’s vaunted rushing attack produced 492 more yards on the ground on only 34 plays. Both of those totals were just shy of the all-time record in this rivalry set in 2010. In that contest, Norwalk needed 28 plays to churn 510 rushing yards in a 64-7 conquest.

“Honestly, we’ve told the kids no matter what, it’s a rivalry game,” said Norwalk head coach Jesse Ceniceros. “These kids grow up together in the same community, they go to the same middle school together, then they separate. That just adds to it. During a rivalry game, you never know what’s going to happen.”

The game marked the last time that Penny, the Suburban League’s second leading rusher, will face the team from the east side of Norwalk. In three games against the Eagles, Penny carried the ball 26 times, gained 428 yards and scored seven touchdowns. He stated that he’ll remember the memories of growing up in the city and wanting to play Glenn.

“There were some awesome times,” Penny said. “We shared a lot of blood, sweat and tears with Glenn on this field. They’re a great rival and they will always be a rival to us. We just played great the past three years. It was a great time playing against Glenn.”

“Just talking about it with my brothers and playing with my brothers, we just love to play here,” McDowell recalled of his fondest memories growing up. “Since my freshman year I couldn’t wait to get to Excelsior Stadium to play Glenn.”

The Lancers, who remained the top team in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section’s Southeast Division for an eighth consecutive week, improved to 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the Suburban League. Norwalk scored on five of seven first half drives and in the second quarter alone, the Lancers ran five plays, scoring on three of them. Senior quarterback Matthew Ortega made it a 33-0 game with his 13-yard score late in the stanza.

The designated home team would then score on all four of its second half drives. Sophomore Jesse Lotts, who had earlier scored from five yards out, added a seven-yard score late in the third quarter to make it 47-0. The final Norwalk touchdown came from junior David Laugheed, a six-yard run late in the fourth quarter.

The only thing in doubt was the potential for a second straight shutout against the Eagles (0-8, 0-4). That was put to bed on the game’s final play as junior quarterback Erick Galindo found junior Dominick Enriquez for an eight-yard score.

“Those kids have heart and character,” Ceniceros said. “All I have is good things to say about those kids because again, they haven’t had a lot of success. But they came out with their top team and they weren’t afraid. They came out and played hard.”

At times, the Eagles were successful in moving downfield. But for every two steps forward the Eagles would make, they would take three steps backwards. Of the 46 rushes that Glenn had, 16 went for negative yardage. Norwalk’s defense recorded two sacks and intercepted Galindo twice.

“That was our thing tonight,” said Glenn interim head coach Joaquin Aguilar. “We got things going but we shot ourselves in the foot. A mistake here, a mistake there…just execution-wise on offense and it killed our drives.”

Senior running backs Jamal Burns (77 yards on four carries) and Angel Rochin (46 yards on 17 carries) led the Eagles ground game. Rochin was also four of four passing for 39 yards, all going to senior Steven Morones. Glenn will host Artesia tonight for its homecoming game, looking to break a 13-game losing streak.

“We just have to keep playing,” Aguilar said. “They realize this is the best team in the league right now; the number one team in the division. They knew who they were playing.”

Norwalk’s defense, which was missing senior linebacker Aaron Armendarez who tweaked his ankle, was led by senior linebackers Jose Abrina (eight tackles) and senior Jose Ramos (five tackles, an interception and a sack), who was Armendarez’ replacement. Norwalk was also without the services of senior fullback Xavier Fuery and junior quarterback Jacob Carr, both of whom sprained their knees against Artesia on Oct. 11.

The league title will be on the line tonight when the Lancers pay a second straight visit to La Mirada’s Goodman Stadium to face the Matadores. Norwalk lost last year’s contest 29-23 on a 59-yard touchdown pass from Gerry Myers to Tyler Luatua with 1:39 left to play. Norwalk has not defeated La Mirada since 2008, a 41-24 victory on the road.

“Anytime we play La Mirada, for our kids, it’s a big game,” Ceniceros said. “I think that’s our new rivalry that we have here. It’s time for us to step up and actually finish a game.”

“They have the players,” Aguilar said of Norwalk’s chances to go far in the playoffs. “Until someone says otherwise or stops them, who’s to say they’re not the best team in the division right now?”

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