MAHOMET — Bob Horst is a traditional sort of guy . . . For example, he believes high school football games should be played at 7 p.m. on Friday night not at 1 p.m. or 1:30 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.

Well, the Newton High School football coach gets his wish this week.

His Newton Eagle squad will be playing Addison Driscoll Catholic at 7 p.m. Friday in the University of Illinois Memorial Stadium. At stake will be the 2005 Illinois High School Association Class 4A state championship.

The Eagles earned their spot in the state title game Saturday with a dramatic 9-6 overtime victory over Mahomet-Seymour before a crowd estimated at better than 4,000 at Frank Dutton Field.

The outcome wasn't decided until either Trevor Scott or Alex Koebele pounced on Brandon Tarter's fumble on the Bulldogs' second play of their overtime possession.

After Mahomet-Seymour engineered a desperation 74-yard drive in the final two minutes to tie the game on Steven Fetzer's 34-yard field goal with 26 seconds left in regulation, the two teams went to overtime to settle this bruising defensive battle.

After gaining two yards on first down, the Eagles failed to advance the ball with two passes.

Enter Will May, only recently recovered from a knee injury that had curtailed his kicking chores for three games.

However, the 6-foot-10, 170-pound senior booted the ball straight and true, from 26 yards away giving the Eagles a 9-6 advantage.

Mahomet-Seymour got two yards on its first try then quarterback Joel Gher and Tarter, the Bulldog fullback, couldn't connect cleanly on a handoff as the ball bounced away.

"I don't know if Trevor or I got it, but we held on," said a jubilant Koebele. "It was rough (on the bottom of the pile). Their fullback and a few others were in there. This was a bunch of kicking and stuff going on."

When the official quickly ruled that indeed Newton had recovered the fumble, the Newton sidelines erupted with joy that lasted well into the nighttime hours.

Going into the game, most everyone figured Mahomet-Seymour's defense would be a major factor in the game. However, the fact that Newton's 'D' was every bit as stingy was a shock, though it shouldn't have been.

"Our defense has been playing that most of the season," said Horst. "Our offense gets most of the publicity. But, we wouldn't be where we are today if it wasn't for our defense."

Newton's defense allowed 222 yards rushing but pounced on three of Mahomet-Seymour's seven fumbles — most of which came on the center-to-quarterback exchange.

"It's very difficult to get in sync with the fumbled snaps," said M-S Coach Tom Shallenberger. "I don't know what the problem was. We had problems with that at the beginning of the year, but we worked on it."

After a scoreless first quarter, Fetzer kicked a 28-yard field goal with 6:28 remaining in the second quarter and the Bulldogs took that lead into halftime.

It took Newton only 43 seconds to overcome that deficit at the start of the third quarter.

On the first play of the second half, quarterback Jake Semple and Levi Richards teamed up for a 13-yard gain to the Newton 33.

On the next play, Semple hit Richards on a similar pass but this time, Richards broke free from a would-be tackler, stepped away from another defender and set sail on a 67-yard touchdown pass play that put the Eagles up 6-3.

Newton had two chances to add to its lead in the waning minutes, being stopped inside the 10-yard line, then quickly regaining possession when Gher fumbled at the 10 and Brian Bierman of the Eagles recovered. However, the Bulldogs again held the Eagles out of the end zone.

The first advance had started on the Newton three with 9:56 left in regulation. The Eagles killed nearly seven minutes and ran 20 plays before turning the ball over on downs.

"Our defense really stepped up there," said Gher. "I knew if we could tie it, we would win it in overtime. I guess bad things happen to good teams sometimes."

In boosting its record to 12-1, Newton became the first area team to advance to the state championship game. The Eagles reached the semifinals in 1999 eliminated by Byron.

Mahomet-Seymour saw it season end with an 11-2 record.

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