They cheered and chanted, hugged and celebrated as the Norristown Area High School football team closed out its Thanksgiving Day rivalry with a 10-0 victory Thursday morning at Upper Merion.
“It’s good to go out on top,” said Norristown senior quarterback Izaiah Webb. “This is my last high school game. Maybe my last football game ever. I’m glad it ended in a win.”
Webb was named the Most Valuable Player of the game after throwing for a touchdown and lighting a spark for the Eagles in the second half. He had his moments, but Norristown stopped itself time and again with costly penalties.
“It’s special,” Webb said of winning the MVP award, which was sponsored by the Elmwood Park Zoo. “But I have say, all of my teammates deserved to be named MVP today. Everyone played hard. We did this as a team, not just me.”
The first half was not pretty to watch. The Eagles were outplayed on both sides of the ball, but the defense came up with big plays when it had to. The game went into halftime with Norristown leading, 3-0, thanks to a 22-yard field goal by Justin Nagle that was deflected at the line but still fluttered through the uprights.
“As soon as we snapped the ball, I saw (the Upper Merion defender) coming,” Nagle said. “I tried to get under it and it hit his hand. My heart was beating like crazy. I’m just glad I was able to put points on the board.”
Norristown came out inspired in the second half, driving deep into Upper Merion territory before the drive stalled. The defense then forced a three-and-out, and pinned Upper Merion near its goal line. After the Vikings punted, Norristown opened its next drive at the Upper Merion 35-yard line.
Two plays into the drive Webb hit John Devine down the left side with a picture perfect throw into tight coverage that went for a 34-yard touchdown to put the Eagles up, 10-0.
“He’s a good receiver,” Webb said. “I trust him. I saw he had a step on the guy and I just threw it. He made a great catch.”
The Norristown defense took over from there, closing the door on Upper Merion and the series. The Vikings crossed midfield just once in the second half.
So, after decades of Thanksgiving Day battles, the Turkey Day series has come to a close. The two schools will still play each other, including Week 2 next season, but the longstanding Thanksgiving morning tradition is over.
One thing the Eagles can hang their hat on is that the final series totals read like this: Norristown 17 victories, Upper Merion 16 wins and 5 games ending in ties.