When push came to shove, Newark Catholic turned to its bread and butter on a season-saving drive.
After a stellar first half passing by quarterback Chayce Crouch, the Green Wave ran for 105 of its 158 yards in the second half, including 49 on the biggest drive of the scintillating 48-46 Division VI regional final win against relentless Danville.
Behind determined blocking against the Blue Devils’ stout defensive front, NC stayed on the ground for nine of the 11 plays capped by Anthony Wing’s 3-yard touchdown run and Crouch’s crucial 2-point conversion run.
“It was an old-school, traditional Newark Catholic drive,” said Crouch, who ran for three first downs during the march and eluded defenders in the backfield on his way to the end zone for the winning two points. “The coaches had a great game plan, and our linemen did a heck of a job. They’ve absorbed a lot all season, having to block for the pass and run.”
“We were getting off the ball, pushing and pushing,” said left tackle Evan Hartman. “They pushed back, but we wanted it.”
Coach Bill Franks makes no secret about favoring the run game.
“If we can run, we’re going to run,” he said. “Our kids played low and physical (on the last drive). We wanted to eat the clock, and said, ‘Let’s be calm, let’s execute.’ They left it on the field.
“Our coaching staff had great communication, and put our kids in position to execute and win.”
Things didn’t go exactly as planned, with the Green Wave getting down the field quicker than they wanted and Danville burning timeouts so it could stage a tying drive. Crouch reached the Blue Devils’ 3 with two minutes left, and Wing waltzed into the end zone at 1:53.
“We knew they were going to let us score,” Franks said. “We debated on laying down at the 1, but made the decision just to put it in.”
Crouch said NC had a pass play called for the 2-point conversion, after Danville had converted an amazing five 2-pointers in a row.
“But Danville’s defensive backs did a great job covering our receivers,” he said. “I was able to cut it back and run it up inside.”
There was no panic in Newark Catholic even though the Blue Devils had stormed back from a 40-24 deficit to forge the tie.
“We never get down on anything,” Hartman said. “It’s just our mentality.”
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