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Newton stuns Maize in 19-17 slugfest to capture first win over Eagles since 2011
Hulse and Gomez led the Railers with 158 and 86 yards rushing, respectively.
NEWTON — When Newton quarterback Colby Gomez led his offense back onto the wet turf at Fischer Field Stadium with seven minutes on the clock — and with the Railers leading 13-10 over the 10th-ranked team in 5A — head coach Greg Slade told him the plan:
“We’re gonna run it down their throats.”
11 plays and 78 yards later, senior running back James Hulse ran to paydirt and history, scoring from 13 yards out to cement a signature win for a program that had been searching for one for far too long.
Newton 19, Maize 17.
“I’m just so proud of the kids,” Slade said. “Last week, it felt like we didn’t have any focus and we made sure to change that this week. We were ready to play.”
Altogether, the Railers (1-2) rushed for 301 yards. Hulse led the box score with 158 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, while Gomez added in 86 yards on 22 carries. It was an outburst that even puzzled Hulse himself.
“We just kept running the same plays over and over, I’m surprised it worked so well,” Hulse said. “[But] it’s good. We want to make running hard our identity. I’m just so excited. We’ve never been close to beating Maize.”
Newton brought the excitement early, attempting — and recovering — an onside kick to open the contest. “We told the kids we were gonna take some chances tonight,” Slade said. “[The onside] didn’t result in points, but we kept [Maize] in their own territory.”
Both teams traded punts throughout a quick first quarter, with the Railer offense avoiding three-and-outs and the defense keeping a traditionally high-flying Maize (1-2) offense — with some help from penalties — in check.
The 0-0 deadlock wouldn’t be broken until there was just over a minute left in the second quarter, as Hulse broke a 53-yard scamper to the house on third-and-long. It capped off a quarter absolutely dominated by Newton, which ran 19 plays to the Eagles’ seven and forced a turnover.
The turning point: Leading 7-0 at halftime, the Railers promptly marched right down the field on Maize to start the third quarter and extended their lead to 13-0, courtesy of a 20-yard sprint by Cole Dillon. The sophomore — by design — found himself more involved in the Newton attack than ever before.
“We came out in a new package in the second half that we hadn’t ran all year,” Slade said. “We were able to get [Dillon] involved. He gave us a spark.”
The leading pass-catcher for the Eagles, Bryson Hayes, tallied 161 yards on eight catches against Andover Central a week ago. On Friday, Niko Ramos and the Railer secondary held him to 74 yards and a touchdown on six catches. By the way it played, you would’ve never guessed that this Newton defense was coming off one of its worst outings a week ago.
“We played a horrible game last week,” safety Ramos said. “I think that just put a chip on all of our shoulders. I think we all became film junkies this week. We knew Maize was a beatable team and that we could come in and win our first home game. We knew what we were gonna get and that’s what we got.”
Determined to stay in it, the Eagles found the end zone less than two minutes after Dillon’s score by way of a 21-yard catch and run by Hayes from quarterback Drew Kemp, who finished the evening 9-of-24 for 102 yards and a touchdown through the air.
The key play you likely forgot: Following a few more trades in possession — including a fourth-down stop by Newton at its own seven-yard line — the Railers held Maize to a field goal with 7:51 to go in the fourth quarter. Leading 13-10, Slade’s group understood what a touchdown drive would mean.
Five minutes and 58 seconds later, the unthinkable became a reality. The Eagles tacked on a late touchdown to narrow the deficit, but their ensuing onside kick went out of bounds. A kneel-down by Gomez closed the curtain.
“When [Slade] told us that we were going to run the ball, at that point it was up to us to execute and we ended up executing,” Gomez said. “The O-Line was amazing tonight. [Maize] sent a lot of pressure from the linebackers. We knew it would be a tough night at the line of scrimmage and they did a good job. O-Line and defense were definitely key to this win.”
For the Railers, the result snaps an 11-game losing streak to Maize. As students stormed the field at Athletic Park, Ramos took a moment to summarize what the night meant to Newton:
“It’s a party at Fischer Field Stadium.”
Full offensive statistics:
Looking ahead: The Railers will host AVCTL-I opponent Maize South for homecoming. As of week three’s media rankings, the Mavericks are fifth in 5A and lost to Hutchinson, 28-23, on Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Sep. 22.