NIAGARA, Wis. - Isaac Bray threw a pair of touchdown passes, the second with 27 seconds left in the game, to lift Norway past Northern Elite 12-9 in a non-conference football season opener Friday at Ropele Field.
"It's nice to get the first one," first-year Norway Coach Bob Madigan said. "This was a good game and we should be playing them (Predators).
"These (three games with the Predators since 2010) have been all close. They gave us everything we wanted and more."
TJ Liebergen, who ran 43 yards to end the first quarter, kicked a 24-yard field goal to give the Predators a 3-0 lead in the second quarter.
On the next drive, a Bray pass was intercepted by Joey Swanson but Northern Elite failed to convert for a score. Jordan Zawada also picked off a Norway pass.
With 1:03 remaining, Bray connected on a nine-pass to Jake Pedrotti for a 6-3 halftime difference.
Swanson's running pushed the Predators to a 9-6 advantage in the fourth quarter. The quarterback rambled 21 yards to set up a 13-yard keeper behind a Zawada block for the go-ahead points. Norway's Patrick Guffey blocked the PAT.
In the game's closing seconds, Dan Vivio blocked a Northern Elite punt and the Knights recovered at the 18. Norway then struck for the deciding points.
"We lost John Grayvold, but the kids stepped up," said Madigan, referring to the All-U.P. Dream Team end who injured his leg in an off-field accident that may sideline him for the season.
Bray completed 5 of 14 passes for 109 yards and Pedrotti rushed eight times for a team-high 42 yards. Norway had 111 yards on the ground.
"I give Northern Elite all the credit," Madigan said. "I think highly of Coach Ben Laarman. He's a good coach and they have good athletes."
Madigan also cited the players' summer conditioning under coach Rico Meneghini.
On Thursday, Norway hosts Forest Park and Northern Elite visits Crandon.
"I'm happy to get this one and we'll do the best we can against Forest Park," Madigan said.
Norway 0 6 0 6 - 12
Northern Elite 0 3 0 6 - 9
NE - TJ Liebergen 24 field goal, 6:42.
N - Jake Pedrotti 9 pass from Isaac Bray (kick failed), 1:03.
NE - Joey Swanson 13 run (kick failed), 11:07.
N - Austin Grayvold 14 pass from Bray (kick failed), :27.