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High School Football: Norwalk recovers from sluggish start to roll past Diamond Bar

Norwalk High School Lancers

Norwalk rolls over Diamond Bar

By Loren Kopff

Norwalk didn’t open up its home season the way it wanted to, at least not in the first 18 minutes. But as the first half was winding down, the Lancers turned up the heat and didn’t let up as they turned a 20-7 first quarter deficit into a resounding 52-38 victory.

The Lancers, who scored 58 points in their season opener at Long Beach Cabrillo, improved to 2-0 for the first time since their run to the semifinals in 2009.

Norwalk junior wingback Rashaad Penny picks up some of his 258 yards last Friday night against Diamond Bar. In two games this season, Penny has already gained 439 yards and has scored six rushing touchdowns, three of at least 46 yards. PHOTO BY ARMANDO J. VARGAS

Norwalk actually took a 7-0 lead nearly five minutes into the game when junior wingback Rashaad Penny busted through the middle for a 75-yard run.

But the Brahmas bounced back to score 20 unanswered points in a span of 2:32. Diamond Bar got a 69-yard touchdown down the right side from Tyron Kelley, then Isaiah Thompson recovered the ensuing onside kick. Three plays later, Diamond Bar took the lead following a 49-yard run from Tyler Brown. A fumble on Norwalk’s first play following the go-ahead touchdown gave the ball back to the Brahmas and Austin Szulczewski added a one-yard score late in the opening quarter.

Norwalk would be held on downs on its first drive of the second quarter but when it got the ball back with 5:43 left in the half, the vaunted Norwalk running attack would take over, and in a big way. On the second play of the drive, senior fullback Malcom McAllister picked up the pigskin from a fumbled snap and scampered down the left sideline for a 58-yard touchdown run. Following another Diamond Bar touchdown, McAllister added a 26-yard score and with Penny adding the two-point conversion, the Lancers trailed 26-21 with 1:47 left in the half.

Norwalk forced a three and out and it took Penny just one play of 46 yards to put the hosts in front with 30.3 seconds left in the half. Penny picked up 154 yards on only eight carries in the first half alone.

Diamond Bar regained the lead on the third play of the second half as Kanya Bell scored the second of his three touchdowns, a 49-yard reception from Tyler Peterson. But senior Bryan Sullivan blocked his second extra point to make it a 32-27 contest. The high flying Lancers came right back when senior quarterback Jacquise Hooper found Penny for a 70-yard touchdown in which Penny broke loose from the grasp of Brown and Szulczewski who thought they had contained Penny.

But 14 second later, Diamond Bar took the lead again on a 65-yard pass from Peterson to Bell. Again, Sullivan blocked the point after attempt to keep the score 38-33 in favor of the Brahmas.

Later in the stanza, junior linebacker Matthew Ortega picked off Peterson at the Norwalk 40-yard line and the turnover led to a three-yard run from Sullivan after Penny had picked up 52 yards around the right side. Sullivan then increased Norwalk’s margin to 45-38 with a 39-yard run nearly two minutes into the fourth quarter.

Probably the biggest play of the game, at least on the defensive end, came when Nick Fernandez picked off Peterson at the 25-yard line with 6:21 left in the game. While Norwalk didn’t score on the following drive, the defense would limit Diamond Bar to one yard the next time it got the ball. The Lancers iced the game with under a minute when McAllister sneaked in from a yard out.

Penny racked up 258 yards on 18 carries while McAllister also surpassed the 100-yard mark (104 yards on six carries). Penny also caught the only two completed passes from Hooper for 85 yards. Sullivan had a big game with 74 yards on 10 carries, three tackles and three blocked kicks. Senior lineman Davonte Williams and senior linebacker Martin Jimenez each had six and a half tackles as the Lancers hit the road tonight against Whittier.