Leading 34-20 heading into the fourth quarter, victory slipped out of the grasp of the Newton-Conover football team.
The Red Devils fumbled twice in the final 3:50 of Friday's game against Chase, allowing the Trojans to come away with a 38-34 victory at Gurley Stadium.
"A game can turn real quick," said Red Devils head coach Brint Russell. "You have to make sure you are on your game for all four quarters. Two minutes. We lost a game in two minutes."
Red Devils quarterback Thomas Corpening ran for 50 yards, threw for another 34 and scored three touchdowns, but fumbled twice in the game’s final quarter.
The Trojans (1-0) capitalized on the first of those mistakes.
Running back D’Andre Kelly scored on a five-yard run with 2:58 to go to put Chase ahead by four points. Kelly had six carries for 67 yards and two touchdowns in the contest.
Chase's leading rusher — Josh Wright — tallied 94 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns, as well.
The Trojans rushed for 266 yards as a team on 39 carries in the game.
"You do everything you are supposed to except on the scoreboard," Russell said. "Obviously, we don't want to give up 260 yards rushing, but (Chase) is a triple option team."
Corpening’s second fumble with 2:35 left was recovered by Chase’s Darius Dowden, allowing the Trojans to melt most of the remaining clock.
"We didn't make a lot of errors, but when we did, it was big plays that hurt us and untimely errors," Russell said. "It doesn't matter who you are playing. If you have those critical of errors and they happen in the fourth quarter, it will cost you."
With Corpening out of the game, N-C back up quarterback Cameron Stanley tried to rally the Red Devils in Chase territory.
However, Stanley's errant pass to Anthony Clontz on fourth down sealed Chase's victory.
Newton-Conover (1-0) rushed 48 times for 325 yards, including Nick Baker's team-high 11 rushes for 128 yards.
Baker, Corpening, running back Tyrell Fleming and fullback Blake Roberts each had one rushing touchdown in the contest.
The Red Devils face a similar predicament from last year after losing to East Lincoln in the 2012 season opener.
"We're 0-1 again," Russell said. "It's not something we want. Obviously, we did it last year, and it wasn't something we were happy with. Last year's team bounced back and was resilient. That's what we told this year's team. We've been in this position before. We just don't want to go 0-2. We can fix this and go in one of two ways — we can grow from it or we can divide. With this group, I think we're going to grow. There is no doubt in my mind we'll come to work Monday morning, get better and get ready for next week."
The Red Devils are on the road next Friday when they travel to Lexington for a 7:30 p.m. contest.