New Castle coach Joe Cowart held his young son in his arms as he addressed the team after the game Friday. Moments earlier, Cowart's message was clear: Just win, baby.
New Castle scored a touchdown with 55 seconds left, then was successful on a two-point conversion to claim a wild, 43-42 shootout victory at Moon.
New Castle (6-2, 5-2) took sole possession of third place in the Class AAA Parkway Conference, keeping the Red Hurricanes in contention for a home playoff game. Moon (5-3, 4-3), which also has clinched a playoff berth, dropped to fourth.
The Red Hurricanes overcame an incredible performance by Moon running back Cole Blake, who rushed for a school-record 343 yards and five touchdowns.
Blake scored his final touchdown on a 36-yard run with 4:55 left to give Moon a 42-35 lead, but New Castle responded by going 72 yards in eight plays on a drive that was capped by Julian Cox's 22-yard touchdown pass to Stew Allen with 55.8 seconds left.
With his team trailing by one point, Cowart elected to go for the win. The Red Hurricanes did it. Twice, actually. Niles Holloway appeared to have scored on a two-point run, but the referee had blown the whistle right before the snap to signal a Moon timeout. It didn't matter, though, as Cox followed by running for the go-ahead points.
"We thought about [going for the extra point]," Cowart said. "But our guys were confident. We made the right call, and our guys executed."
Moon had one final chance, but quarterback Aleksi Yaramus was intercepted with just under 10 seconds left.
Cox completed 12 of 25 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for a touchdown.
"This was probably the craziest game of my life," Cox said.
Teammate Malik Hooker, an Ohio State recruit, had five catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
Moon took a 35-21 lead with 8:48 left in the third quarter, but New Castle stormed back to tie the game on Tevin McCaster's 84-yard touchdown run with five seconds left in the third quarter.
Blake rushed for big gains all night-- for 197 yards in the first half and 146 in the second.
"He was amazing," Cowart said.
Under a full moon, the craziness began early when, on the first play from scrimmage, Cox hooked up with Hooker for a 71-yard touchdown.
While New Castle showed it wanted to move the ball by air, Moon began its ground assault on its opening possession. Blake found the end zone from 39 yards out to tie the score.
On Moon's next series, Yaramus scored on a 26-yard keeper on third-and-goal to put the Tigers in front.
Early in the second quarter, the teams combined for three touchdowns in a span of 30 seconds. Cox scored on a 2-yard run to knot the score, 14-14, with 9:37 left in the half. On the ensuing kickoff, Moon fumbled. New Castle's Drew Allen picked up the ball and raced 30 yards for a touchdown.
Then, on Moon's next offensive play, Blake burst down the right sideline and used some excellent downfield blocking for a 68-yard touchdown to tie the game again with 9:07 remaining.
Blake scored on a 6-yard run to put Moon in front, 28-21, at the half.
And it got even crazier from there.
Said Cowart: "It was just an incredibly wild game."
First Published October 18, 2013 8:17 PM