RYAN CZACHORSKI Daily News
Effingham Daily News
---- — NEWTON — After coming back from 14 points down, Newton’s hopes of winning rested on the foot of Flora’s Trey Thompson.
Thompson had a 27-yard field goal with 10 seconds left Friday night from the left hashmark to win the game, but his kick fluttered just wide right and Newton held on for its first win of the season.
The Eagles trailed 14-0 midway through the second, but would storm back to take the lead.
Newton coach Jason Fulton didn’t have many options on the sideline as he waited for Thompson’s kick to seal the game.
“It’s close, you are just praying it doesn’t go in,” he said. “The only thing that matters right now is we won the game.”
The Eagles looked to have struck first early in the game, when a pass from Flora’s Ethan Leib was tipped and intercepted by Brandon Tolliver-Goode. He returned the pick 60 yards for a score, but the play was called back due to a rouging the passer penalty.
Leib got right back out there and connected with Tristan Litaker for a 28-yard score and put Flora up 7-0.
Newton had another drive going on their next possession, but lost the ball when a third-and-ten pass was caught but then fumbled away by Kyle Muska. The teams traded possessions, only to have Thompson score from seven yards out with 7:48 to go in the second.
It took a bit of a lucky break to get the offense going for Newton. Brock Mammoser threw up another long pass to Muska, and it looked like it would be intercepted. But the Flora defender jumped early, and the ball floated into Muska’s hands. He took it the rest of the way, converting a 52-yard touchdown to make it 14-6.
Newton’s defense held, and on fourth and two on the Eagles’ next drive, Mammoser went up top again for a 31 yard pass to Austin Angel. They’d hook up again two plays later for a 14-yard score, and the two-point conversion to Lucas Huston was good to tie the game 14-14 at the half.
“It did (spark us),” Fulton said. “Brock looked tremendous. I don’t know what’s taken us so long.”
Flora seized momentum early in the third when Newton turned the ball over at their own 22 on a bad snap on a punt attempt. Flora would convert a short fourth down attempt by inches, and Leib ran the next play in from 12 yards to make it 21-14.
The Eagle offense wouldn’t be denied, as they ran the ball down the field with authority. The drive stalled, but Mammoser channeled his inner Tim Tebow on fourth and two from the five, throwing a jumping touchdown to Tanner Shull to tie the game at 21-21.
The Wolves turned the ball over on downs at the Newton 31 to start the fourth, and Newton took advantage. Allen Taylor took the ball 28 yards on the first play, and Brandon Tolliver-Goode finished it off with a 41-yard touchdown, giving Newton a 28-27 lead.
“Allen and the offensive line, we got into them a little, saying to open some holes from us,” Fulton said. Lucas Huston did a great job at fullback opening some holes.”
Alan Stephenson turned it right back around for Flora, returning the ensuing kick 80 yards for the score. It was Flora’s second kick return that went the distance on the day, the first being called back due to a penalty.
Thompson would miss the kick, in a preview of things to come, making it 28-27.
The teams traded turnovers, with Taylor being stripped of the ball, but Tolliver-Goode picking Leib’s next pass off at the five-yard line. Newton killed eight minutes off the clock but turned it over in the red zone, but the defense held its ground and Thompson couldn’t convert.
“I thought defensively we played great,” Fulton said. “I don’t think their stats are super huge, they just had some big plays. The kickoff return was a killer.”
Mammoser was 13-for-22 for 195 yards and three touchdowns. Taylor carried the ball 19 times for 11 yards, and Tolliver-Goode added eight carries for 53 yards and a score. Angel caught four passes for 61 yards and a score, while Muska had six catches for 112 yards and a touchdown.
Leib was the leading rusher for the Wolves with 21 carries and 52 yards. Logan Smith carried the ball five times for 53 yards, and Thompson had 41 yards on nine carries.
Shull had six tackles to lead the team.
Newton (1-2, 1-1) plays at Lawrenceville next Saturday afternoon.
Flora 7 7 7 6 27
Newton 0 14 7 7 28
Rushing: Flora: Smith 5-53-0, Leib 21-52-1; Newton: Taylor 19-11-0, Tolliver-Goode 8-53-1
Passing: Flora: Leib 8-20-131, 1 TD, 1 INT; Newton: Mammoser 13-22-195, 3 TD, 0 INT
Receiving: Flora: Litaker 5-73-1; Newton: Muska 8-112-1, Angel 4-61-1