Champion's missed field goals turned out to be crucial.
By SAL MARINO
CHAMPION -- You have to hand it to Newton Falls coach Marc Bjelac -- he's not afraid to take a chance.
After Newton Falls quarterback Tom Nemet hit wideout Darren Brounce for a 6-yard touchdown with 1:41 remaining in the game to cut Champion's lead to 21-20, Bjelac took a risk.
Rather than kick the extra point, Bjelac ordered a two-point conversion try, and it paid off.
Nemet hit running back Marty Hutchinson on the conversion to seal the Tigers' 22-21 comeback victory Saturday in a postponed game at Champion Stadium.
Friday's scheduled start was postponed because of lightning and Bjelac said the delay didn't hurt the Tigers.
"We kept our poise and concentration," Bjelac said. "It was fantastic to win a game like this because Champion came well-prepared."
Brounce caught seven passes for 120 yards and three touchdowns.
Nemet hit 13-of-18 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers (3-2, 1-1 Trumbull Athletic Conference). Hutchinson carried 28 times for 95 yards.
"When we were down, we still stayed close together," Brounce said. "We were focused, but this evidently was the best game of my career."
The Golden Flashes (2-3, 1-1) got an outstanding performance from wideout Max King, who caught five passes for 60 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Running back Adam Wargo, who rushed for 50 yards, scored the other. Quarterback Brian Smith hit 15-of-26 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown.
Tigers score first: Brounce scored first to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
Two series later, Wargo scored from 3 yards out to cut the lead to 7-6. Brounce struck again with 1:02 left in the second quarter, this time from 11 yards out, to make it 14-6 at the half.
Champion's Mark Hofmeister missed a 51-yard field goal that bounced off the crossbar with five seconds left in the half.
King scored on a 16-yard pass from Nemet and a 4-yard run to give Champion a 21-14 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Midway through the fourth, Hofmeister attempted a 38-yarder that again hit the crossbar.
The missed field goals were crucial.
"[Newton Falls] controlled the ball in the first half," Flashes coach Greg Lazzari said. "It was a well-played game on both sides. Newton Falls did what they had to do effectively and did it well. We stopped their run but we just didn't rise to the occasion."
Newton Falls won just two games last year, so the Tigers are guaranteed to have a better record.
"The line gets the credit," Nemet said. "We haven't thrown a lot this year but we opened it up today. This game will help us a lot. I felt great today. We kept our calm and it's a big win for us."