It took a football novice and a football veteran to help lead the Newton Railers to a 15-13 upset win over Goddard Eisenhower Friday in non-league play at Fischer Field.
Josh Edson hit a 61-yard inside screen pass to Gavin Cusick with 5:57 to play to put Newton in the lead. The defense made two stops in the remaining time, including a Henry Claassen fumble recovery, to preserve the win.
“That was a great game by the defense,” Newton coach Chris Jaax said. “Eisenhower is a really good team. They’re well coached. Our defense came out and played well. The two touchdowns we gave up, one came on a big play after a missed assignment. The other came after a turnover. Overall, the defense played very sound.”
Senior kicker Xander Valdivia hit field goals of 42, 21 and 33 yards for the Railers, one of the most field goals scored in a game in recent history.
In addition to his play on the football field, Valdivia has been one of the leading scorers on the Railer soccer team. His first field goal (and longest) came at about the same spot as his game-winning overtime goal in soccer against Salina South last week.
“There’s a lot more pressure (in football),” Valdivia said. “In soccer, you don’t see that many guys coming after you. There’s a lot of adrenaline. I like the way it feels. It was a hard kick, but it was a team effort. I’m glad we won.”
It took some convincing to get Valdivia out for football.
“Jaax asked me last year, but I was more into soccer,” he said. “I decided to give it a try and I really like it. I really love soccer, so if I get a good scholarship offer, I’ll stay with soccer, but if something comes along, who knows.”
“We’ve known Xander can kick a ball very well,” Jaax said. “Going into this game, it was going to be defensive. If we get the opportunity to get points, we had to take it. You don’t know how many opportunities you’re going to get. The first field goal we called, it was boom. We could get a field goal from almost anywhere. I talked to the Salina Central coach the other day, and he said that Xander kicked a field goal from about the same distance, only a lot lower.”
Edson was two for nine passing with an interceptions and a touchdown for 72 yards. He had 28 rushes for 110 yards and two catches for 49 yards. He also had an interception on defense and returned a punt.
His last pass held up as the game winner.
“We’ve been running that play the whole time,” Edson said. “We’d been getting killed, but I saw the safety walk up and it was open. We need to pick it up more at the beginning of the game, but I felt like we did a better job of playing with intensity the whole time. I just had to keep my head up and persevere. … I couldn’t do it without my offensive line or my defensive line.”
“He’s a great player,” Jaax said. “He’s a gamer and will find a way to win.”
Eisenhower was led by Chance Omli, who hit 10 of 30 passes for 165 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. His first touchdown came on a swing pass to Mason Turney for 60 yards to put the Tigers up 7-3. Down 9-7 in the fourth quarter, a Railer turnover set up an 11-yard pass from Omli to Jordan Vincent. Omli also had an interception on defense.
Kolyn Saucedo had an interception for the Railder defense in the second half.
Eisenhower falls to 4-3, dropping its second straight game. Newton improves to 3-4 and ends the regular season at 7 p.m. Friday against Salina South. The Cougars are 1-6 after a 44-21 loss to Salina South.
“We just have to put together back-to-back weeks,” Jaax said. “Salina Central (last week) was a great team, but we didn’t come out ready to play. We had a better mentality today. It’s all about our mentality and our intensity.”
1q. N Valdivia 42-yd. field goal 6:10
1q. GE Turney 60-yd. pass from C.Omli (Vidrio kick) 1:56
2q. N Valdivia 21-yd. field goal 9:41
3q. N Valdivia 33-yd. field goal 7:06
4q. GE Vincent 11-yd. pass from C.Omli (pass failed) 7:12
4q. N Cusick 61-yd. pass from Edson (kick failed) 5:57
RUSHING — Goddard Eisenhower: C.Omli 16-44, Wenzel 14-27, Cook 1-10, Turney 2-5, Jobe 4-5. Newton: Forest 11-64, Edson 28-110.
PASSING — Goddard Eisenhower: C.Omli 10-30-2, 165 yards. Newton: Edson 2-9-1, 72 yards; B.Schmidt 4-6-1, 53 yards.
RECEIVING — Goddard Eisenhower: Turney 2-69, Vincent 5-65, Friend 1-7, Wenzel 2-24. Newton: Maxwell 1-11, Cusick 2-66, Edson 2-49.
Missed field goals — none.