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RGR | Gomez, Carr record career outings as Newton suffers 32-27 loss to Hutchinson: Recap and analysis
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NEWTON, Kan. — 55 combined second-half points and a myriad of big plays turned what many would’ve considered a snoozefest by halftime into an instant classic last Friday night when Newton (0-2) hosted 5A’s ninth-ranked Hutchinson (2-0) to open Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division 1 play, suffering a 32-27 defeat.
“It was a tough loss,” Railers head coach Greg Slade said. “We knew Hutch’s offense was going to be good and we felt like we could throw the ball and it kind of turned into a shootout.”
Newton opened the scoring with a four-yard run by running back James Hulse to take a 7-0 lead with just 39 seconds left in the first quarter. The Salthawks wouldn’t respond until the end of the second quarter when quarterback Nic Lange found Gabe Eye in the back of the end zone for a 17-yard scoring hookup.
The Railers regained the lead just three minutes into the third quarter when Dylan McBee returned a Noah Khokar line-drive punt to the end zone untouched. Trailing 13-7, Hutchinson immediately responded with an 11-play, 80-yard drive to go up 14-13. Once again, Newton continued the seesaw as Camden Carr rushed for an 11-yard touchdown.
To start the fourth quarter, the Railers led 19-14. The Salthawks opened the final period’s scoring with another Lange-to-Eye connection, followed by a 61-yard strike from Newton quarterback Gomez to Carr. Three plays later, Khokar scores for Hutchinson — but the Railers block the extra point.
Then, with 1:20 left in the game, the Salthawks found the end zone for what would be the last time for either team on an 81-yard catch-and-run by Khokar to put away a narrow five-point win for the visitors.
“I’m proud of the kids,” Slade said. “Man, they played hard. I love that to death. They’ve just got a lot of pride right now and we’ve gotta continue to build that. … I told them the sun will come up tomorrow and we’ll continue to prepare for our next opponent. It’s my job to keep them enthusiastic and focused.”
The Salthawks finished with 551 yards of offense and Khokar had 280 of those with two touchdowns. Lange threw three touchdowns.
There were plenty of turning points to choose from and positives for Newton.
The key play you likely forgot:
With 1:20 left in the second quarter and facing 3rd and long while leading 7-0, the Railers dialed up a pass and Gomez’s attempt fell incomplete, thus stopping the clock for Hutchinson — which had no timeouts — and giving the Salthawk offense plenty of time to eventually drive the field and score to tie it up at seven apiece just before halftime. Newton would go on to lose by five.
The turning points:
With 9:51 left in the fourth quarter and the Railers ahead 19-14, Hutchinson faced a 4th and 5 at the Newton 20-yard line. As the Salthawks did throughout the night, they converted — in this instance with a touchdown pass from Lange to Eye to put Hutchinson back on top.
After blocking a Salthawk extra point to retain a 27-26 lead late in the fourth quarter, the Railers went on a 13-play drive that seemingly promised points to effectively put the game away. Instead, it ended in a fumble recovered by Hutchinson, which then scored the game-winning touchdown just a few plays later.
Building off a strong second half against Valley Center in the season opener, Gomez had undoubtedly the best game of his career in the gold and black, finishing 20/34 for 287 yards and a touchdown. The Newton faithful had been waiting for the junior and second-year starter to take the next step and he did that (and more) on Friday night.
Along with Gomez, Carr also posted the game of his life. The senior wide receiver led the team with 125 yards on six receptions with two touchdowns — one receiving (a 61-yard bomb) and one rushing. Between Carr, Isaac Klug, and Dellen Claassen, the Railers possess an explosive WR corps full of guys who are capable of changing the course of a game in one play.
Staying on the offensive side, running back James Hulse saw a major uptick in his production thanks to play-calling. While he didn’t put up big numbers in rushing, he was utilized on screens and found opportunities to use his speed in space. This adjustment was huge for not only Hulse but Gomez’s rhythm as well.
The area of concern:
Newton’s defense was unable to get a stop when it needed it the most, yielding three Salthawk touchdowns on their last three possessions (excluding kneel-downs). While the Railer offense was able to keep them in the game, the math is simple: keep Hutchinson out of the end zone just once in the fourth quarter and Newton likely comes out on top.
Full offensive stats:
To see the full offensive stats from this game, click/tap the button below.
Next up, the Railers will head to Maize to face the top-ranked team in 5A. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at K.T. Woodman Stadium. Newton lost to the Eagles twice in 2021, 54-10 in the regular season and 39-9 in the first round of the playoffs.