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The Nordonia High School football team has already packed a season's worth of excitement into the first three games of the 2016 campaign.
The Knights played another dramatic, high-scoring contest Sept. 9. Nordonia traveled to non-conference opponent Dover and tamed the Tornadoes by the score of 55-47. With the win, the Knights improved to 2-1.
"It was a wild one," said Nordonia head coach Jeff Fox. "We took control in the third quarter and were up by 19 points. Then they recovered an onsides kick, and it came down to the wire. We got some first downs when we needed them, though. It was a solid team win over a good Dover team."
There were a total of six touchdowns scored in the first quarter, as Nordonia seized a 21-10 lead. The Knights went to the locker room at halftime with a 28-26 edge.
Nordonia stretched its lead in the third stanza, outscoring Dover by a 17-7 margin. That gave the Knights a 45-33 advantage at the outset of the fourth frame.
The Tornadoes scored two more touchdowns in the final quarter, but Nordonia kept them at bay, posting a touchdown and field goal to seal the victory.
Nordonia enjoyed its third straight highly productive game on offense. Sophomore quarterback Robby Levak completed 14-of-22 pass attempts for 256 yards and four touchdowns. He also tossed a pair of interceptions.
"Robby had another really good game," said Fox. "It's only game three of his sophomore year, and he's making good decisions and has command of our offense."
Nordonia also enjoyed tremendous success via the ground game.
Senior running back Anthony Perrine racked up 178 yards rushing on 29 carries and scored two touchdowns. Levak also made major contributions to the rushing attack, picking up 86 yards on 14 attempts and another score.
Senior Donny Wizniak was Nordonia's leading receiver, snagging five receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown. In addition, junior wide receiver Tye Evans caught four passes totaling 60 yards and a touchdown.
Recording two receptions apiece were Perrine (24 yards) and senior wide receiver Alec Burholder (19 yards). Senior wide receiver Luke Alders also caught one pass covering 24 yards.
Defensively, senior linebacker Brandon Libby returned an interception 76 yards, while Wizniak and junior linebacker Zach Hansford both recovered Dover fumbles. Senior Trey Crockett also did an excellent job with the placekicking duties, connecting on all seven of his extra point attempts and making two field goals of 45 and 34 yards.
There has been no lack of drama and excitement through Nordonia's first three games. However, Fox believes the Knights have been growing through this "baptism by fire."
"These have been pressure-packed situations," said Fox. "We've made some mistakes and responded. Two of these games were great victories. The players have stepped up and learned how to win close games."
Nordonia is opening Suburban League National Conference play in a big way by hosting Hudson Sept. 16. The Explorers beat the Knights twice last season, including once in the playoffs.
"They're one of the best teams in the state," said Fox. "We think our team has learned quite a bit during these first three weeks, and we're looking forward to this home game on Friday night."