A three-yard run and a three-point margin produced the final outcome in the battle between Newton-Conover and St. Stephens on Saturday.
Newton-Conover quarterback Kevin Cline rushed three yards into the end zone to give the Red Devils a three-point overtime win over the Indians. The touchdown was the second for Cline, who also scored on a one-yard, second-quarter sneak.
The win improves Newton-Conover to 2-1, while St. Stephens falls to 0-3.
“It shouldn’t have been this close,” Newton-Conover Coach Nick Bazzle told WNNC after the game. “We have got some things we have got to fix. I wish we could get to playing well on a consistent basis.”
On the opposite side of the outcome, Whalen was encouraged by his team’s performance, despite their record.
“Hopefully this showed we are a pretty decent team when we want to be,” St. Stephens coach Fred Whalen told WNNC.
Throughout the game, the Indians showed they want to be a good team, especially as the game time waned — and especially when Jon Sweet is running the football.
After Newton-Conover opened the second half with an 80-yard touchdown run by Jervasse Moss and a 17-7 lead, the Indians battled tough on defense, and bounced back going into the fourth quarter.
On a drive that included a 30-yard gain, Sweet capped a long Indians scoring drive with a 9-yard touchdown run, to bring the Indians within three points, 17-14.
The Indians defense answered the example set by the offense, holding Newton-Conover to three-and-out on their ensuing possession.
With the ball back in their hands, the Indians turned back to Sweet's feet. He rushed for a 57-yard gain to get the Indians down to the Red Devils 13-yard line. For the game, Sweet rushed for 191 yards on 30 carries.
The Red Devils stood strong for three downs, however, and forced a fourth down decision for Whalen as his team sat in the red zone. His decision: fake a field goal.
It almost worked.
Newton-Conover’s Jordan Martin broke up a would-be touchdown pass from quarterback and holder Matt Williams to Zach Bumgarner.
From deep in their territory, Newton-Conover rode Matt Coulter toward mid-field, but the Indians defense stiffened and sacked Cline for a 20-yard loss.
Starting their drive at their own 36-yard-line at the 2:43 mark in the fourth quarter, the Indians marched down the field and tied the game, 17-17, on a Zach Bryant 28-yard field goal. The game went into overtime.
Bryant kicked a 19-yard field goal to give the Indians a 20-17 lead in the first overtime period, but Cline’s third down touchdown run made the difference, giving the Red Devils the win.
Moss led Red Devil ball-carriers with 105 yards on five carries, including an 80-yard rush. Coulter carried the ball 14 times for 86 yards.
In other action Saturday,
Maiden was defeated at home, 47-20 by Hickory.
Bunker Hill picked up its third straight win, defeating North Lincoln 44-0 in a contest that kicked off at 10 a.m. Saturday.