Due to a scheduling quirk, Miami Norland’s football team had three weeks since its last game to prepare for Carol City.
The Vikings used that time very effectively.
Norland put its season back on track Friday night at Traz Powell Stadium when led by another stellar defensive effort and senior running back Chavis Wright’s 119 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries, the Vikings beat Carol City 14-8 in overtime.
“This is almost like a state victory for our guys,” Norland coach Daryle Heidelburg said. “We know to get to where we want to go we have to get out of a tough district.”
The extended time off came after Norland has lost its third consecutive game on Sept. 26 against Plantation American Heritage following a 2-0 start. The other losses came against South Dade and Central.
The Vikings had a bye week and a game against Blanche Ely originally on its schedule. But after that game was cancelled prior to the season, Norland knew it would have a three week gap between games just before a likely crucial district tussle with Carol City.
“Our kids knew the door that was left open after [Carol City] beat [Central] two weeks ago,” Heidelburg said. “We wanted to get back in that playoff race.”
The victory put Norland (3-3, 1-1 in district) back in the thick of the race for the District 16-6A championship as it put the Vikings in a tie with Central (5-2, 1-1) and only a half-game behind Carol City (6-2, 2-1) and Northwestern (3-3, 1-0).
Central plays Northwestern Saturday night at Traz Powell Stadium, and Norland, which lost to Central, still has a game against Northwestern next week.
Wright’s 10-yard touchdown run on the first play of Norland’s overtime possession gave the Vikings the lead. Carol City blocked the ensuing extra point, however.
But the Vikings defense forced back to back incomplete passes and then sacked Carol City quarterback Stephen “Buckshot” Calvert, who started after missing last week’s game against Southwest with a shoulder injury. Calvert’s pass on fourth down from the 15-yard line to the back of the end zone fell incomplete, sealing the win for Norland.
“At the end of the day, you have to play your hardest and we did tonight,” said Norland defensive back Vosean Joseph, who tackled Carol City running back Cameron Davis for a safety in the first quarter to give the Vikings a 2-0 lead that would stand until the third quarter. “This gives us a lot of confidence. After beating Carol City, we’re back on top.”
Norland scored its first touchdown on Wright’s 2-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. A failed extra point kept it a one score game, however.
Carol City recovered a fumble with 2:11 left in the fourth as Norland was trying to run out the clock and went on its game-tying march.
Calvert connected with Kevaughn Dingle from 13 yards out for a touchdown with 44 seconds remaining. On the ensuing two-point conversion try, Calvert kept the ball and ran into the end zone to tie the game.
But Norland’s defense, which allowed less than 100 yards of total offense until late in the fourth quarter, did not yield in the overtime possession.
“The kids knew what was at stake and you can tell by the way we played,” Heidelburg said. “My hat’s off to Carol City because they didn’t quit. We were up against the wall and we came out scratching. It was a game for the ages.”