NEWTON – He may be known around Newton, simply, as Mitch after Friday night, but Mitch Bierman had some sort of out-of-body experience after scoring the game-winning touchdown and two-point conversion in overtime.
He could barely stand and couldn’t stop smiling, while he reflected on what he’d just done in Newton’s 34-33 win against Olney.
“Just feels amazing,” Bierman said. “Freshman. One hundred and forty-five pounds. Oh, my God.”
Newton chose to go for the game-winning two-point conversion after Bierman scored on a 10-yard run, on the first play of the Eagles overtime possession. The Eagles ran virtually the same play, a pitch out to Bierman, who ran into the end zone untouched.
The touchdown was Bierman’s second of the game, as a part of a 28-carry and 145-yard rushing game for the freshman whose coach said he’s earned his playing time in practice.
“Mitch has a lot of heart and guts and gives you everything he’s got, everyday,” Newton head coach Jason Fulton said. “He does that to us everyday in practice. I’m glad he’s on my team.”
Bierman’s teammates swarmed him after the game, patting him on the shoulder pads and telling him how great he played, but he said he played hard for his teammates.
“I did it for my seniors,” Bierman said immediately following the game. “It’s for everybody. We’re a family. I gotta go shake hands.”
Olney, who entered the game undefeated in divisional play and just outside the state’s top 10 rankings in Class 4A, had a chance to get into field goal range or score a touchdown with 1:35 to go in the game, tied 26-26.
The Tigers ran 11 plays, but ran out of time with only one timeout after Nolan Shan was sacked and then threw and incomplete pass as time expired.
In overtime, Olney scored on its second play to take a 33-26 lead, but Olney head coach Matt Music said his defense couldn’t stop Newton’s rushing attack.
Newton ran for 278 yards in the game and four touchdowns in the game, but Music said he called a man-to-man defense on the last play of the game to try to contain the edges on a run play.
“Newton executed the play, and why not,” Music said. “They’d been running that all night and we never stopped it.”
The win is Newton’s third this season, all of which were one point games and all of which were at home. Also, the win keeps the Eagles in the playoff hunt, now 3-2 and in the Egyptian Division and 3-4 overall.
“This is unbelievable,” Fulton said. “Our goal is still reachable, and now we got to practice Monday with a little bit more to play for.”
Fulton is admittedly a “hugger,” and saved his biggest hug for his freshman, named Mitch.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Olney 3 8 7 8 7 33
Newton 0 14 6 6 8 34
Rushing — Olney: Shan 14-92-1, Kuhling 8-36-2; Newton: Bierman 28-145-2, Taylor 16-65-1, Huston 7-25-1
Passing — Olney: 10-18-192, TD; Newton: Mammoser 7-12-78, TD, INT
Receiving — Olney: Waggoner 2-95-1; Newton: Muska 4-27, Angel 2-46-1