Goal-line stand, slip on final play seal thrilling Cardinal Newman victory
Friday, September 28, 2012
by Jeff Greer
The last play of Cardinal Newman's 33-27 win over archrival King's Academy didn't quite do justice for one of the fall's most exciting games.
On a night filled with spectacular statistics, breakout runs, a fast-paced start and an even more ferocious comeback, King's Academy sat at the 9-yard line with seven seconds left and a chance to tie the game.
But before he could roll out, King's Academy quarterback A.J. Pasquale was tripped up by a teammate and his last-gasp hurl fell to the turf, a painful end to the Lions' playoff hopes and a jubilant milestone in sixth-ranked Newman's postseason qualification.
"We just hurried it a little bit," King's coach Heath Nivens said. "He was trying to get out of the pocket on a pass play and he caught someone's leg. We rushed it. It was a really tough way to lose a game."
Newman (5-0) stormed back from a 27-14 halftime deficit. With the win, the Crusaders are 3-0 in District 7-3A and clinch a regional playoff spot.
Travis Rudolph, Newman's junior do-it-all athlete who has verbally committed to play for Miami, ran 12 times for 166 yards and two touchdowns. He also had three catches for 37 yards.
Devonte Brown, a hobbled senior who was playing with a deep thigh bruise, took 17 carries for 183 yards and three touchdowns. And Andrew Owers, Newman's fast-improving sophomore receiver, added 33 big receiving yards, including two big first-down grabs.
It was Brown and Rudolph's second-half magic that saved the Crusaders, gashing King's defense for three sustained drives.
"It was a good character game," Newman coach Steve Walsh said. "It's a good measurement of your stamina."
His defense's stamina stood out in the game's final 24 minutes. Newman put together second-half adjustments that slowed King's star running back James Holland just enough.
Holland blazed through the first half, running twice for more than 60 yards, including a 63-yard scamper to start the game's scoring. He finished with 194 yards and two touchdowns.
"To run like that, your offensive line is doing a good job," Nivens said. "He found a different gear tonight."
But Newman made a fourth-quarter stand to withhold one final King's rush. The Lions started at their own 20-yard line with 2:57 to play, driving 71 yards, including a converted fourth-down attempt near midfield.
A stuffed Holland run and an incomplete pass set up the game's last play, which Newman aggressively snuffed out before Pasquale had a chance to look downfield.
"They hit us good in the mouth," Walsh said. "We didn't adjust to it at first. It was a great football game. We expected that. It was a really important win for us."