After falling to 1-2 with a loss to Casey-Westfield, Newton varsity football coach Jason Fulton said the team’s back was against the wall. He looked himself in the proverbial mirror and knew a change needed to be made. In himself.
Fulton openly admits that he over complicated the game plan and needed as he said “let the kids play”. And so he did.
Newton allowed a fourth quarter touchdown to Robinson’s Tyler Beard that tied the game at 7-7 with 7:16 left to play that pushed the contest into overtime.
Robinson scoring on a touchdown and converting the PAT in overtime on their possession, Fulton, at the urging of one his players, decided to attempt a two-point conversion after scoring a touchdown of their own.
“The funny thing about that two-point conversion play is that Trenton Hance called that play. He said ‘Why don’t we run this play?’,’ he said. “We called it and he caught. What a play by him.”
Newton took possession of the ball at the 10-yard line for their overtime attempt. Marshall Tarr, playing quarterback for the injured Payton Birch, rolled right after mishandling the snap and found Jacob Stanley standing inside the goal line making the score 14-13.
Tarr lined up in the backfield and took the snap and passed it to Hance who was standing in the same spot that Stanley caught the touchdown. Tarr ran to the sideline and jumped into the arms of a member of the coaching staff.
I think something I did as a coach was made some mistakes by making it too complicated. I got back to our basics, Fulton said. “Let the kids play, make it easy on them. Let them play, they’re athletes, let them be good athletes and they made some good plays tonight.” We gave up one really great play to (Robinson’s) Beard and I think we were right there. We just missed a tackle.
Newton scored the first touchdown of the game on a 60-yard pass from Birch to Stanley. The Eagles have given themselves room to breathe.
“At 4-2 (and homecoming against Flora next week), I wouldn’t say our backs are against the wall. I think what it did was give us some breathing room,” Fulton said. “Our goal is to win out and get in the playoffs and most importantly just take one at a time.”
Now the Eagles have to assess their quarterback position.
“We’re in a situation now where we can get into the playoffs. We should be in the playoffs,” Fulton said. “We’re in a situation now where we don’t know who our quarterback is going to be. Hopefully we’ll get it all figured out.”
Fulton said he feels for Birch.
“Its tough. We’ll get in and check out Payton to see where he’s at, but for Marshall to step in...We knew we had a quarterback issue coming into the season,” he said. “Payton Birch stepped up, and Marshall took some reps. We’re really proud of what he did tonight.”
Fulton beaming with a bit of pride said, “The other thing tonight is that it gives these kids belief – I think they’re always teetering on ‘Are we really good or are we not really good you know and they win an overtime game like this. It’s belief. They know they can go out and play with people.”
“We may not be at the pinnacle of where we were three years ago. We know that,” Fulton said. “But that game tonight was all about heart, desire, and getting the job done. My heart goes out to these kids.”