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CIF-SS DIV. 12 FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS – Norwalk Penalties Propel Woodbridge to Upset Win With Late Field Goal

Norwalk High junior running back Michael Mueller gains eight yards on his first carry of the game in last Friday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 12 first round playoff contest. Mueller would rush for 47 yards on 10 carries as the Lancers fell to Woodbridge 24-21. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer.

 

November 9, 2021

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

 

On paper, the Norwalk High football team had a lot of things going in favor for itself as it hosted Woodbridge High last Friday in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 12 playoffs. The Lancers had an extra week to prepare as their bye was on Oct. 29, they were entering the playoffs at 6-4 overall while Woodbridge was sporting a 3-7 mark and they were the second seeded team in the division.

But that’s why you play the games and Norwalk was the victim of bad penalties at the worst time which cost the team of advancing to a 12th game. Daniel Goodrich booted a 19-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining in the game and the Warriors scored 11 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to escape with a 24-21 victory.

“What I thought would be our strength was our offense and we kind of bogged ourselves down,” said first-year head coach Ruben Guerrero. “We bogged down with penalties and we kind of killed our momentum and shot ourselves in the foot a little bit.

“Defensively, we made adjustments at the half, and they came out in the second half and made a stop we needed,” he continued. “I thought we were in great shape at that point. And then again, our offense…after we punched it in, the drive we needed to sustain, we couldn’t.”

Norwalk, making its first trip to the playoffs since 2017, had taken a 21-13 lead nine seconds into the fourth quarter on a 33-yard run from senior running back Jonathan Goodloe. But Woodbridge, the second place team out of the Pacific Valley League, was beating the Lancers at their own game-ball control. Starting at their own 38-yard line, the Warriors used a combination of seven short passes and three short runs to get to the 17-yard line. None of those 10 plays went for more than nine yards. The key play was a conversion on fourth and six from the Woodbridge 43-yard line when Jackson Trerotola caught a seven-yard pass from Edward Ma. Those two would have a say in the tying touchdown as Ma scored from 17 yards out with 5:16 left to play, then tossed a two-point conversion pass to Trerotola.

Norwalk was looking to regain the lead on the ensuing drive when a crucial holding penalty made it second and 11 from its own 49. Before the next play could be run, Norwalk was called for another penalty, a five-yard infraction, and after two runs of 13 yards, the Lancers were forced to punt for the first time in the game with 1:58 remaining.

 

Norwalk High senior running back Jonathan Goodloe scores the first of his three touchdowns, this one from seven yards out in the first quarter, in last Friday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 12 first round game against Woodbridge High. Goodloe would add scoring runs of four and 33 yards respectively and ended the game with 141 yards on 18 carries as the Lancers were upset 24-21 on a field goal with 11 seconds remaining in the contest. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer.

 

 

“We were just trying to control the ball; control the clock,” Guerrero said. “We were trying to use that in our favor. We did a pretty good job of that until we started having penalties. We were moving backwards rather than moving forward and that hurts us as an offense.

“I don’t know what it was,” Guerrero later said of the second penalty. “The refs were telling us that we were being called for a lot of stuff that…I don’t know. Some stuff that we usually do with our offense, we don’t get called for.”

“We’re a smaller team, but we play a ball control type of offense with the short passes,” said Woodbridge head coach Aaron Craver. “And then our running back is nifty. He’s not going to break the long run.”

It would go from bad to worse in a heartbeat for the third place team out of the Suburban League, which entered the playoffs as an at-large representative. On the fourth play of Woodbridge’s next drive, Ma found Bala Vazrala for a 12-yard gain right in front of the Warriors sideline. However, according to Craver, a Norwalk defender appeared to have grabbed the ball out of Vazrala’s hands, but the officials ruled the defender had one foot out of bounds. On the next play, Norwalk was called for pass interference which would lead to a 32-yard pass play from Ma to Dereck Moore, who got to the seven-yard line.

Following a sack by senior lineman Angel Rosales of six yards with 28 seconds left, Moore caught a nine-yard pass and Ma gained two yards on a run, setting up the game-winning field goal.

“We saw that they were starting to inch up because we were throwing all those short passes,” Craver said of the pass interference call. “We felt like we have athletes…because we want to reward them a little bit and they want to go for the deep ball. I said we would take two shots at it. That key was the fourth down. We couldn’t give the ball back to them when we were down eight. That was the big play.”

The game began in typical fashion for both teams with Goodloe capping off a nine-play, 60-yard drive with a seven-yard touchdown run 4:09 into the contest. On the opening drive for the Warriors, Feiamma Armstrong gained 24 yards on seven carries, including a four-yard score and with 2:18 left in the first quarter, it was tied.

The Lancers then went on a longer drive to take the lead again as they ran off the final 2:18 of the first quarter, then used the first 2:59 of the second quarter to ride the legs of Goodloe again. This time, he ended a 12-play, 63-yard drive with a four-yard run with 9:01 remaining in the first half.

Craver is no stranger to seeing the double wing offense. He was the head coach for Artesia High for part of the 2009 season when Artesia and Norwalk were members of the Suburban League. He admitted that he was sure his team could find a way to stay with the Lancers drive for drive and contain that style of offense.

“I think so, and I felt comfortable with it because they run it and they run it really well,” Craver said. “You’re always going to be uncomfortable with it. But I was comfortably uncomfortable thinking, ‘okay, we know what to do but are the guys going to believe’ because they don’t face the double wing. So, are they going to trust the technique that we need to do to try to slow them down? You’re not stopping them; you have to slow them down and that’s all we did.”

The Warriors countered on their second drive of the game, chewing up a little over five minutes, going 72 yards on nine plays and cashing in on a 19-yard pass play from Ma to Trerotola. The extra point would be unsuccessful, and the half ended with Goodrich and Goodloe intercepting their opposing quarterbacks over the final 29 seconds.

Woodbridge ran 50 plays and Ma was on fire, connecting 22 times in 25 attempts for 209 yards. He began the game with six straight completions, then had a streak of 13 straight to begin the second half. Armstrong gained 71 on 17 carries while the Lancers were led by Goodloe, who rushed for 141 yards on 18 carries. Junior running backs Adrian Ramirez (50 yards, six carries) and Michael Mueller (47 yards, 10 carries) also were part of an offensive attack that gained 264 yards on 44 rushes. Junior quarterback Caden Barnhill completed one of three passes for 18 yards, which came on the last play of the game to Goodloe. On defense, Mueller led the purple and gold with eight and a half tackles while Goodloe recorded eight tackles and senior linebacker Giovanny Mungia another four tackles.

“He put a lot of work in this year and like I told the kids right now, the seniors that were out here, including Jonathan, we saw some things out here that Norwalk football had not seen in a long time,” Guerrero said of Goodloe. “That’s promising, and so we’re looking for the future. But Jonathan has set the table for the underclassmen now to try and follow in his footsteps.”

 

 

 

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