NORWALK — Daniel Thompson’s right arm was letting him down in the first half.
So he looked to his feet instead.
The Staples High senior quarterback rushed for two second-half touchdowns to lead the Wreckers to a 27-0 win over Norwalk at Testa Field on Friday night.
“I wasn’t throwing the ball that well tonight, so we had to make up for it with other parts of our game,” said Thompson, who carried the ball eight times for 119 yards and added 86 passing yards. “We pulled it together in the second half and all that matters is we got the win.”
Leading 10-0 at the break, Staples thought it was going to receive the kickoff to start the second half.
Norwalk went onside kick, however, with the Bears’ Akber Khan recovering.
“We were ready to go, we’ve got a couple of things we want to try and all of a sudden we’re on defense,” said Staples coach Marce Petroccio. “But our defense did a great job.”
And once Staples did get the ball, the next 14 points came in a hurry.
It took the Wreckers seven plays to march 62 yards with Thompson scoring on an 11-yard touchdown run. But it was his 25-yard pass to Nico Rossi that kept the drive alive on third down.
In fact, in its first seven third-down opportunities, Staples got five first downs.
“Those are confidence-builders for the offense and they’re daggers for the defense,” Petroccio said.
After holding Norwalk to a three-and-out and forcing a 22-yard punt, Thompson scored again on the first play from scrimmage — this time a 35-yard score to make it a 24-0 ballgame.
“We knew we weren’t playing to the best of our ability,” Thompson said. “We have a high-powered offense and we know we should be scoring more than 10 points in the half.”
Ben van der Merwe capped the scoring with a 44-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
The Wreckers took a 3-0 lead on their first possession of the game, but despite 184 total yards in the first half, they wouldn’t put points up again until just 1:11 remained on the clock.
Van der Merwe’s 36-yard field goal put Staples up 3-0 early in the first, but it was one of only three drives for the Wreckers in the half.
Staples’ second possession started on its own 13 and survived two third-down efforts to keep the drive alive.
Harris Levi picked up 17 yards on a third-and-2 while Thompson scrambled for 25 yards on a third-and-13.
The Wreckers’ third attempt at a third down went nowhere at Norwalk’s 34, and Petroccio opted to punt to pin Norwalk deep.
The move worked as the Bears started their ensuing drive on their own 6-yard line.
Staples’ defense allowed one first down and got the ball back on its own 30 after the Bears punted with 3:30 to play.
Quickly, the Wreckers’ offense started rolling.
Levi gained 11 yards for a first down before Thompson hit Kevin Rabacs for 7 yards.
Thompson called his own number on an option that gained 24 more yards, putting the ball on the Norwalk 28.
The Bears forced a third down and it appeared Norwalk would end the drive there when Thompson’s pass was batted out of the air.
Offensive lineman Johnny Maisonet caught the ball, however, and rumbled forward for 11 yards and a first down.
“I told him at halftime he was our leading receiver,” Petroccio quipped.
Two plays later, Brandon Adrian scored from 4 yards out on a counter and Staples had a 10-0 halftime lead.
“I think we came out in the second half and went after them a little bit,” Petroccio said.
THE LINE OF SUCCESS
Staples’ line was big, opening up holes that led to more than 300 yards on the ground and nearly 400 total yards in the game.
The Wreckers’ front included Charlie Overton, George Harrington, Ben Klau, Johnny Maisonet, Ian Cooney and sophomore Ben Howard at center.
“We had some new guys in new spots, but they had a great week learning their new positions and I’m really proud of them,” Thompson said.
Norwalk, playing without top wide receiver AJ Hall (concussion protocol), just couldn’t get a lot going against Staples’ defense.
“They were great,” Norwalk coach Sean Ireland said. “It was 10-0 at the half, but it should have been 3-0. But we just had trouble moving the ball tonight, and that’s a credit to them.”
Norwalk’s longest play from scrimmage was a 32-yard run by Jakari Walker. For the game, though, the Bears were held to less than 100 total yards.
The Bears fell to 3-3 heading into next week’s game at Danbury.
Staples plays Fairfield Warde.
STAPLES 27, NORWALK 0
STAPLES 3 7 14 3—27
NORWALK 0 0 0 0—0
S—Ben van der Merwe 36 field goal
S—Brandon Adrian 4 run (van der Merwe kick)
S—Daniel Thompson 11 run (van der Merwe kick)
S—Thompson 35 run (van der Merwe kick)
S—Van der Merwe 44 field goal.