NEWARK — Nelsonville-York went for the win, but Newark Catholic refused to lose.
NC linebacker Wes Jurden knocked Buckeyes’ quarterback Hunter Edwards out of bounds short of the goal-line on what would have been the game-winning two-point run, preserving the Green Wave’s pulsating 27-26 overtime win Saturday in NC’s first game on the new turf at White Field.
“It was a full team effort,” Jurden said of the defensive stop, “Nick Cavinee set the edge, and myself and a couple of others finished it off. We made big plays when we had to make them.”
Quarterback Kris Goodman’s 1-yard TD keeper, set up by Jurden’s three runs for 19 yards, and Heath McCarthy’s kick had pushed NC up 27-20 in overtime. Edwards immediately ran for a 20-yard touchdown, and Buckeyes’ coach Dave Boston Jr. decided to roll the dice.
“We weren’t surprised,” said NC coach Bill Franks. “Coach Boston believes in his kids, and his system. That was a third-year quarterback we tackled, and they had several three-year players.
“You build toughness through the months of lifting weights and proper conditioning, and coach (Ted) Londot brought some more information into it. Wes Jurden is just such a leader, and he brings that into the weight room.”
The Green Wave (2-0) needed all the toughness it could muster on this warm evening. Twice, NC rallied from behind in the fourth quarter. Goodman’s 3-yard TD strike to Jack Wollenburg with 10:08 to play and McCarthy’s kick tied it at 13-13, capping a 69-yard, 16-play drive. But Chris Cook intercepted Goodman and ran it back 34 yards for a score as the Buckeyes (1-1) forged ahead 20-13 with 4:41 left.
When Colt Yinger made a leaping sideline interception of Goodman at the Nelsonville 18 with 2:14, the Green Wave looked finished. But NC got it back with 45 seconds and on third-and-1, Goodman rolled left out of the pocket and spotted a wide-open Tanner Lake for a 30-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline with only 12.5 seconds. McCarthy’s kick forced overtime.
“It was kind of a broken play,” Goodman said. “Our receivers kept making plays and our linemen did a great job protecting me the whole second half. We just kept believing.”
Goodman heaved a 64-yard touchdown pass to Wollenburg for a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter, but it was all the first-half offense NC could muster. The Buckeyes out-gained them nine first downs to two and 179-100, eventually taking a 7-6 halftime edge when on fourth-and-6, Edwards’ pass towards the end zone was tipped into Walker Elliott’s hands for a 20-yard touchdown. Garrett Maiden kicked the extra point.
NC’s defense kept it in the game, with Drake Nance pouncing on a Buckeye fumble at the Green Wave 6, and Jud Lewis returning an interception 28 yards to the Nelsonville-York 30. NC, however, was stopped on downs.
The visitors then used a big chunk of the third-quarter clock, going 76 yards in 13 plays capped by Alex Mount’s 5-yard TD run with 4:28 left in the third. Newark Catholic was down, but it turned out, not out.
“We banded together in adversity, and didn’t tear each other apart,” Jurden said. “There’s a Scriptures quote (Proverbs 17:17): ‘A friend is a friend at all times. A brother is born into adversity.’ We’re a brotherhood.”
Nelsonville-York had 17 first downs to Newark Catholic’s 10, and rushed for 240 yards to only 63 by the Green Wave. But Goodman completed 17 of 30 passes for 204 yards, including eight to Lake for 77 yards and four to Wollenburg for 90 yards.
“Our philosophy is to bend, don’t break,” Jurden said. “Kris is head and shoulders over where he was.”
NC didn’t have a fumble and had zero penalties.