For the second straight year, it was instant heartbreak for the Newton High School football team against the Andover Trojans.
Up 12 points in the fourth quarter, the Railers gave up two touchdowns on quick drives to fall 36-34 Friday at Fischer Field in Class 5A district play. Coen Rasmussen hit Eli Renoux for a six-yard touchdown pass with 29.2 seconds remaining for the game winner.
Andover finishes the season 9-0, 3-0 in district play. It was the second straight year Andover beat Newton on a late score, winning last year on a touchdown.
"We're in great position, then Cole VanEpps, the last guy we would ever expect to fumble, that was the chance right there," Andover coach Mike Lee said. "Our kids just kept hanging in there. Newton is so physically good. They had a great game plan. We just had to hang on. We had to make plays when we had the chance. We had the same thing happen last week. We've been in some games where we've had to deliver in the fourth quarter.
"They're a good team," Newton coach Nate Wollenberg said. "They have a lot of talent. I'm proud of how our guys played. There are a lot of what ifs, but our guys battled. We know we get to play another week. We get to play in the playoffs, and that's what counted. We tried to take some things away from them. When you try to take something away, there are things they can find."
Each team scored five touchdowns. Andover converted on three two-point conversions. Newton completed two of five.
"Several two-point conversions we weren't able to come up with," Wollenberg said. "We have to figure out for this next game how to execute a little bit better and try to get better."
Final stats were not reported at deadline. Newton's Braedon Morrison rushed for three touchdowns and passed for one. Bradley Million also rushed for a touchdown. For Andover VanEpps rushed for two touchdowns. Rasmussen passed for two touchdowns.
The Railers got off to a nightmare start. Andover opened with a quick drive that ended on a two-yard VanEpps run. After a pair of penalties on the point-after attempt, Rasmussen ran in the two-point conversion.
Newton then fumbled the kickoff, but the defense held to force a punt. Newton marched the ball 97 yards, scoring on a one-yard Morrison run. Morrison's run for two points fell just short.
Andover struck back quickly, scoring on a one-yard VanEpp run. The two-point conversion pass was picked off by Jack Kingsley. Newton answered with another drive that ended on a one-yard Morrison run. Again, Newton's two-point conversion attempt failed.
Andover made another quick drive that ended on a 46-yard pass from Rasmussen to Miles Starks. Rasmussen hit Ryan Hoskinson for the two-point conversion. A Newton touchdown was called back when a pass from Morrison to Austin Gronau was ruled forward of the line of scrimmage.
Newton made a defensive stop on fourth down late in the first half, going 77 yards the other way, scoring on a three-yard Morrison run with 52.9 seconds left in the half. Morrison hit Cory Martens with the two-point conversion pass to get the Railers within two.
Newton opened the third quarter with a 7:09 drive that ended on a 24-yard pass from Morrison to Martens. On the previous play, Morrison was hit with a 15-yard penalty for hurdling a defender. Morrison ran in the two-point conversion.
Newton made a defensive stop to force a punt, but a bad snap for the Railers led to a stop for Andover late in the third quarter. An Andover fumble set up another long Railer drive that set up a 14-yard Hill touchdown run with 8:05 left in regulation.
Andover needed just three plays and a minute to reply, scoring on a 35-yard Young run. Rasmussen hit Renoux for the two-point conversion. Newton got back to the Andover 30, giving the ball over on downs with 4:35 remaining.
With Andover facing fourth and nine on Newton 49 with 2:23 remaining, the Trojans were hit with a five-yard penalty for illegal motion and a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Newton got the ball back on a short punt with 2:13 to play, but lost yardage on the drive and punted with 1:16 remaining. It took Andover just five plays to find the end zone for the go-ahead score. The two-point conversion was knocked away by Newton.
The Railers got three plays off before time expired.
Newton ends the regular season 5-4, 2-1 in district play. The playoff pairings are expected later today. Newton plays at 7 p.m. Friday (subject to change) on the road.
"We'll have to see who it is and start getting ready," Wollenberg said.
Andover 14 8 0 14 —36
Newton 6 14 8 6 —34
1q. A VanEpps 2-yd. run (Rasmussen run) 10:08
1q. N Morrison 1-yd. run (run failed) 5:26
1q. A VanEpps 1-yd. run (pass failed) 3:57
2q. N Morrison 1-yd. run (run failed) 9:52
2q. A Starks 46-yd. pass from Rasmussen (Hoskinson pass from Rasmussen) 9:23
2q. N Morrison 3-yd. run (Martens pass from Morrison) :59.9
3q. N Martens 24-yd. pass from Morrison (Morrison run) 4:44
4q. N Million 14-yd. run (run failed) 8:05
4q. A Young 35-yd. run (Renoux pass from Rasmussen) 7:05
4q. A Renoux 6-yd. pass from Rasmussen (pass field) 29.2