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New Castle edges Moon in slugfest, 43-42

| Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, 11:09 p.m.

Moon's Cole Blake ran for 343 yards and five touchdowns, but No. 8 New Castle used a successful 2-point conversion with less than a minute to play to take the Parkway Conference barnburner, 43-42.

“It was an incredibly wild game,” New Castle coach Joe Cowart said. “I'm proud of our guys for fighting through it tonight.”

Blake dominated the New Castle defense, but it was the Red Hurricanes (6-2, 5-2), led by quarterback Julian Cox, who took sole possession of third place and enhanced their chance of hosting a home playoff game.

“Our guys were confident. Our coaches were confident,” Cowart said of the decision to go for 2. “That was the right call. The guys were able to execute. It was exciting.”

New Castle — coming off of a 37-31 heartbreaking loss to No. 1 West Allegheny last week — struck first when Cox found Malik Hooker running down the middle of the field for a 71-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage.

The Tigers (5-3, 4-3) answered with a heavy dosage of Blake. In three straight plays, Blake ran for 55 yards, including a 39-yard scamper to the left to tie the score at 7-7 early.

“We knew we could run the ball,” Moon coach Mark Washington said. “We tried to do the things we could to win the game, and we just couldn't. We can't make any excuses.”

After Moon forced a turnover on downs on a fourth-and-2, Blake continued to run — this time for 49 yards all the way to the New Castle 1-yard line. After four consecutive penalties and a sack, quarterback Aleksei Yaramus took a quarterback keeper through the right side and up the sideline for a 26-yard score.

As the game took shape it was clear that the team with the ball at the end would have the best chance at winning. New Castle scored two touchdowns in 14 seconds. After Cox ran into the end zone from 3 yards, Drew Allen recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and took it 34 yards.

“The fact that our backs were squarely planted on the wall tonight and we fought our way back was impressive,” Cowart said. “We showed some resiliency tonight.”

New Castle had the ball with less than four minutes left and drove 64 yards on nine plays to pull to within one when Cox hit tight end Stew Allen from 22 yards out. Cox then scrambled to convert the 2-point conversion.

Cox finished 13 of 26 for 210 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Hooker led all receivers with five receptions for 117 yards and two scores. New Castle running back Tevin McCaster added 139 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown after missing the first half with an injury.

Justin Criado is a freelance writer.

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