Given just a few more seconds, the Newton football team very well might have knocked off defending Class 5A state champion Bishop Carroll on its home field in the first round of the playoffs Friday night. Ultimately, the Railers' upset bid fell short in a 40-34 loss to the Golden Eagles.
"We played great. Give it to Bishop Carroll, they made plays. We kept on coming after 'em and they kept on making plays," said Newton coach Chris Jaax. "It was a fight. It just says a lot about our kids. We have great kids; I'm really proud of the way they fought."
Through one quarter of play, the game was a defensive showdown — not an offensive shootout — as both teams managed to keep the opposition out of a rhythm. Jaax noted those defensive stands were crucial to his team's confidence and helped keep Newton in the game to the point where the visitors had their chance in the end.
While the Newton defense forced a turnover on downs on Bishop Carroll's first possession, the Railers couldn't capitalize and Golden Eagles' running back Jackson Nichols went to work on their next drive. Nichols scored on a one-yard run shortly into the second quarter to give the home team a 6-0 lead, part of a three-touchdown, 283-yard performance for the senior back.
From there, the Golden Eagles where rolling. After a three and out for Newton, Bishop Carroll needed just five plays to score again as quarterback Aiden Niedens found Benjamin Pilens on a 22-yard pass and Nichols picked up his second touchdown of the night with just over two minutes left in the first half to make it 20-0.
Newton found a spark running the two-minute drill, though, as quarterback Colton Davis spread the ball around on the team's next possession and connected with Josh Edson, Boone Roberson and Damarius Peterson on key plays to keep the drive alive. The Railers then turned to a gadget play to get on the scoreboard as Edson took a pitch and then tossed the ball 20 yards downfield to Peyton Maxwell for the touchdown that made it a 20-7 game after two quarters of play.
Bishop Carroll came right back out and scored on its first possession of the second half, but the touchdown before halftime seemed to rouse the Newton offense as it answered right back with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Davis to Roberson to make it a 27-14 game.
"It was just a matter of finishing our execution," Jaax said. "I think once we scored, the kids saw the film and we were able to convince them of that, and then we do in the second half and offensively they were able to pull some things off."
The turnover bug then bit Bishop Carroll, as Nichols fumbled on the team's next possession and Matthew Seirer recovered for Newton near midfield. Shortly thereafter, Davis connected with Peterson on a 24-yard score and it was a one possession ball game, 27-21.
Momentum seemed to be stacked in the favor of Newton at that point, as Niedens then fumbled on the Golden Eagles' following drive, but the Railers could not convert a second time. In fact, an injury forced a Newton timeout, which seemed to take the visitors out of rhythm and — more importantly — took away some precious time that would have been valuable in the final seconds of the game.
Despite being able to pin Bishop Carroll deep with a perfect punt from Peterson, Nichols continued to grind it out on the ground and set up a five-yard touchdown run for Brady Bockover shortly into the fourth quarter that made it 34-21 in favor of the Golden Eagles.
Immediately after, Davis continued his big night (nearly 300 yards of total offense and four touchdowns) as he connected with Edson on a 67-yard bomb that kept it a one score game, 34-27.
"Colton is a great football player, he's a fierce competitor and he's got a bright future," Jaax said of the Railers' senior leader.
Several seniors came up with big plays throughout the night for the Railers, but Bishop Carroll always seemed to have an answer.
After the long touchdown to Edson, Niedens capped off an eight-play drive with a 41-yard touchdown run that made it 40-27 in favor of Bishop Carroll.
While Newton answered back with a four-yard touchdown pass from Davis to Roberson, the clock was working against the Railers at that point. With 2:27 left in the game, the Golden Eagles attempted to run out at the clock but left their visitors with one last chance, but Newton could not manage any last magic in the 40-34 loss.
"I just think it shows the kids the more they understand, they fight, they compete and they do what they're supposed to do, good things are going to happen no matter who we play. This should give them confidence that they can play with a lot of people," Jaax said. "I'm proud of our seniors for everything they've done and I really wish they would've got a win tonight."
Newton finishes the 2018 football season with a 3-6 overall record.
NHS; 0; 7; 14; 13; 34
BC; 0; 20; 7; 13; 40
9:27 BC Nichols 1-yard run (kick fails) 6-0
6:46 BC Pilens 22-yard pas from Niedens (Walden kick good) 13-0
2:19 BC Nichols 11-yard run (Walden kick good) 20-0
0:25 NHS Maxwell 20-yard pass from Edson (Gonzalez kick good) 20-7
8:21 BC Nichols 25-yard run (Walden kick good) 27-7
4:09 NHS Roberson 28-yard pass from Davis (Gonzalez kick good) 27-14
1:45 NHS Peterson 24-yard pass from Davis (Gonzalez kick good) 27-21
9:54 BC Bockover 5-yard run (Walden kick good) 34-21
8:34 NHS Edson 67-yard pass from Davis (kick blocked) 34-27
4:39 BC Niedens 41-yard run (kick fails) 40-27
2:27 NHS Roberson 4-yard pass from Davis (Gonzalez kick good) 40-34
NHS — Davis (15-61), Edson (1-18), Jones (12-52), Roberson (2-8). BC — Nichols (35-283-3), Niedens (8-81-1), Bockover (3-11-1).
NHS — Davis (13-24-218-4), Edson (1-1-20-1). BC — Niedens (15-19-214-1).
NHS — Roberson (6-48-2), Edson (4-96-1), Maxwell (1-20-1), Peterson (3-24-1). BC — Ferguson (1-7), Lynch (5-51), Baalmann (4-41), Bullinger (3-90), Pilens (1-22-1), Nichols (1-3).