Newcastle Dogies win in overtime

Sonja Karp

Sonja Karp

NLJ Sports Editor


Victory is sweet, but it is downright scrumptious when it’s the first win of the season and it happens on Homecoming night. 

Dogie head coach Matt Conzelman has watched his team improve since their zero week game in August, and was excited — to say the least — that they were able to put everything together to get their first W and to do so in an overtime showdown.

“You know, my first win as coach was in overtime against Custer, so it’s kind of cool that the same thing happened in the first win of the season this year,” Conzelman said, with a smile. “The guys were so excited and amped up that by the time I got to the locker room, they were out of there and off to celebrate.”

Fans had been waiting for this night, and at first it looked as though things might not go so well for Newcastle as their first possession began with back-to-back sacks for quarterback Slade Roberson.

After a huge gain deep into Dogie territory, the Eagles were knocking on the door of the end zone, however, with a determined Dogie defensive stand in the red zone, Newcastle turned Tongue River over on downs on their own 7-yard line. 

“We didn’t start out great and we kind of went backward. Then our special teams kind of hurt us,” Conzelman admitted. “We got a punt blocked but then the defense played great on a short field and got some stops for us.”

The Dogies closed out the first quarter on offense and continued to march the ball down the field in the second, picking up one first down after another, and anyone could see that Roberson, Tanner Neilsen and Holden McConkey were determined to get into the end zone. 

McConkey got around the corner for a huge gain with about four minutes remaining in the second, however a block in the back called it back and left Newcastle with a long way to go.

Bad luck struck again when they were 3rd and 22 at the Eagle 40-yard line and Roberson was intercepted on a pass intended for Neilsen. 

The Dogies had to recover from the disappointment of failing to convert on what had been a promising drive which ate up about eight minutes out of the second quarter.

But recover they did!

The Dogie D went to work with a vengeance forcing the Eagles into a fourth and 14 situation with 2:22 to go in
the half, and a huge hit by senior Aidan Chick which backed them up on second down was a pivotal part of that defensive stand. 

Chick wasn’t done yet as he then blocked the punt attempt and big Josh Womack fell on the ball for great field position at the Eagles’ 15-yard line.

“That was a momentum changer for us,” Conzelman said. “We were able to feed off that play and used our great field position to punch one in.”

Roberson picked up 9 yards on first down to get to the 6-yard line, and in the next play he picked up 3 yards for a first and goal.

Next, McConkey got the call for a slight gain on first down. Roberson kept it on second down but was thwarted by the Eagle defense. Roberson was not to be denied, however, as on third down, he put his head down and punched it in for the first touchdown of the contest. Dylan McFarlin was good on the PAT to give the Dogies a 7-0 lead with just 25 seconds to play in the half.

Unfortunately, Tongue River connected on a long pass on first down, but Quint Perino saved the TD by dragging the Eagle down short of the goal line with nine seconds to play. The Eagles were able to put the ball in the end zone and were good on the PAT to tie things up going into the half. 

The Eagles received to start the second half and went to work on their own 35-yard line but Newcastle held them to only 4 yards in their first possession.

Conzelman said last week he’d like to see more yardage on the ground, and he got just that on Friday night as his team methodically drove down the field picking up one first down after another. 

In their first possession of the second half, the Dogies got backed up by penalties and things were looking
grim for the Dogies, but on third and 22, McConkey broke free to get to within two
of a first down in Eagle
territory. McConkey got the call to go for it on fourth down and the junior powered through to pick up a big, Dogie first down.

In the next set of downs, Roberson ended up scrambling to avoid a sack on third and seven, but he was able to break free and found Tanner Neilsen in the end zone on a 17-yard pass with 3:08 to go in the third. McFarlin was good again on the PAT to put his team up 14-7. 

“We did a good job of grinding out the clock,” Conzelman began. “We didn’t necessarily have a bunch of big plays, but we were able to get manageable third down situations and then just keep rolling. We wound up with 20 more plays than them and when they did get possession, it was three and out.”

The Dogie defense was stifling throughout the third and fourth quarters, giving Tongue River nothing on the ground, however, the Eagles had a little more luck when they went to the air.

It would be a 50-yard pass completion which gave them great field possession they were able to use to pick up another touchdown to tie things up at 14 with only 2:05 to play and the score remained knotted up at the end of

Overtime consisted of each team taking possession on the 10-yard line with four chances to score. Newcastle won the toss and opted to go second, putting pressure on the Eagles.

“McConkey was huge in stopping their first two attempts at the goal line,” Conzelman declared. “He is so fast and slippery, and reads the offense so well that it’s just tough to block him.”

The Dogies held the line and forced the Eagles into a field goal attempt which they completed to go up 17-14.

Then it was the Dogies’ turn at the end zone.

“It felt good knowing we were only down three,” Conzelman said. “We knew we had a good shot of getting it in the end zone and we had a lot of confidence in Dylan if we ended up needing to go for three.”

Roberson was the man of the hour and ran a keeper on second down to get the ball to the 5-yard line and on third down it was Roberson again. The senior put his head down and drove with everything he had as his team helped push him into the end zone for a walk-off touchdown. 

“That was just the best moment,” Conzelman said. “Obviously, getting the win was great, but to do it the way we did was even better. I was just so happy for the guys!”

The Dogies are hoping to continue their momentum into this Friday’s contest against the Herders of Glenrock. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Schoonmaker Field.


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