LEO-Lions Field hosted one of the most anticipated games of the entire 2022 season, especially in the 260-area (which is the Fort Wayne viewing area). Every local media expert and prognosticator had this date booked into the 2022 calendar. But on this night, Norwell proved that their quest towards a championship season is no fluke. They avenged last year’s 41-7 loss by shutting out Leo 27-0. This is Norwell’s first win against Leo since 2014, and it’s Leo’s first shutout loss in conference since 2006.

The first half was where Norwell showcased the most fireworks on the offensive side of the ball. Both teams started off with stalemate drives where both defensive lines matched intensity-to-intensity. However, a commonality to tonight’s game was the lack of efficiency in taking care of the football. 

Leo committed four turnovers all in the air, and the first one led to a huge offensive drive for Norwell. On the very next drive after the pick, Norwell marched down the field and the senior QB Lleyton Bailey scored on a QB keeper who beat everyone to the left side for a 7-0 lead with 6:36 left in the 1st quarter. Leo had trouble moving the ball down the field the entire game with no first downs until the second quarter. In fact, they had a drive that went as badly as 4th and 43 from near their own end zone. That’s how good Norwell’s defense was and how inefficient Leo’s spread offense looked. 

The end to the 1st quarter saw sophomore Drew Graft coming in at quarterback with a 26-yard completion to set themselves up for another touchdown. 2 plays later, Drew Graft (no confusion to his older brother Luke) scored on a goal line QB keeper to make it 14-0. There’s no confirmation to why they went to the sophomore on that drive, but it did appear this was intentionally planned to throw off the Leo defense. If that was the case, it worked to perfection. 

It would remain 14-0 for most of the 2nd quarter with Norwell just missing the uprights on a 45-yard field goal attempt by Austin DeLeon. Leo had a fumble recovery to give the Lions some momentum. But every time they had a chance to make that huge play, they created another self-inflicted mistake. This allowed Norwell to stay in the driver’s seat when Luke Graft scored the first of his two touchdowns with just seconds to spare to increase it to 21-0 at intermission. Luke and Drew Graft combined for 126 yards on the ground and 3 Touchdowns on the game. 

The second half would start off with a long Leo drive that lasted nearly 6 minutes due to penalties, long 3rd downs, more penalties, and these slant passes to tight end Brock Schott. Despite that, Leo came away empty yet again. In fact, this quarter alone had Leo in the red zone on two consecutive drives (one coming from a fumble recovery), and yet Norwell’s defense answered time and time again. A incomplete pass on 4th and 5, led to a turnover on downs and Norwell’s opportunity to ice the game. 

Eventually, they did when Luke Graft scored his second touchdown of the game with under two min to play in the third quarter and led 27-0 (on a Failed PAT). 

That ended up being the final score where Norwell’s front 7 controlled the entire outcome of the game from the opening kickoff. The Norwell defense recorded four interceptions with one of them coming from Luke Graft, as well as 1 official sack. Leo’s spread offense was unable to move the ball all night long recording just 82 total yards tonight. 

3-0 Norwell has only given up one touchdown all season long as they travel to winless Bellmont next week. As for 1-2 Leo, they go on the road to face rival New Haven next week.