By Ken DeLaat
Photos by Alexis Mercer and Special Assistant Bella
In the words of Harry Carey... HOLY COW!!!!
In a game filled with drama and excitement the Newayo faithful went from elation to despair when Chip Hills used two pass plays to go 85 yards and score the winning touchdown with no time left on the clock.
The Lions entered the final period trailing by 20-14. They began a drive late in the third that took them into Warrior territory but a fumble, their second of the game, gave CH the ball. The Lion defense held tight and forced a punt but another miscue on the return gave the visitors the ball deep in Lion country.
Once again the defense rose to the occasion overcoming a roughing the passer penalty that kept the Warrior drive alive and managed to stop them at the 5 yard line.
That’s when the Lions began the series that would eat up most of the remaining minutes while overcoming penalties and succeeding on two 4th down conversions to tie the game on a Connor Swinehart to Brenden Brechting pass on 4th and 14.
Angel Guevara found the center of the uprights and the home crowd went wild in celebration of the comeback.
But it wasn’t over yet.
Chip Hills had 1:53 left and three passes proved unsuccessful including a 4th down attempt that was broken up on a key play by Jarrod Wismar.
The Lions took over with 1:16 on the clock and the ball in Warrior territory but CH had a pair of time outs and used them judiciously to get the ball back on downs with 18 seconds left and the down marker sitting at their own 15.
A hook and ladder pass play went for 60+ yards while eating up the seconds and as the officials waited for the chains and players to be readied the clock was halted at 4 seconds. With both teams hurrying to get lined up the official signaled the clock to begin.
The chaotic situation produced a pass up the middle that was caught and taken to the endzone causing an eruption on the Newaygo sidelines as well as the stands. The issue? The scoreboard clock seemed to indicate time had expired before the snap.
The officials saw it differently and the Warriors celebrated the victory while Newaygo players and fans were stunned by what had just occurred.
The controversial call ended an evening of high emotion as the teams battled back and forth all evening. CH scored first on a Ty Jose pass to Koronte Lowery and after an unsuccessful PAT tried an linedrive kick at the front line that was grabbed immediately by Carlos Magana.
After a pair of short running plays Swinehart found Kade Bhuyan for a 25 yard gain and Zachary Rodriguez took a pitch from Swinehart and scampered 30 yards for a score. Guevara's kick gave the Lions a 7-6 advantage.
In the second the visitors put together a 6 minute 14 play drive that resulted in another scoring pass to Lowery and a 2 point conversion to go up 14-7.
4 seconds remained in the half when Swinehart hit Wismar in stride and the sophomore shook off his defender to find the endzone as the teams hit intermission knotted at 14 after the Guevara extra point.
Early in the third the Lions had a scoring opportunity taken away when a close play at the goalline was ruled a fumble and not the apparent touchdown and instead of staking the hosts to a lead the Warriors took over on the 20 on a touchback. Later in the third Lowery scored again on an option play and after another missed conversion the stage was set for the 4th quarter dramatics.
A couple of key penalties and the three turnovers hurt the Lions Thursday, but the two crucial calls, one costing them a touchdown and the other resulting in a game ending decision on elapsed time were also key factors in the loss.
Newaygo is now 0-2 and will travel to Stanton next Friday to face Central Montcalm also 0-2.