New Town gained 614 yards from scrimmage and forced seven Manchester Valley turnovers in a 47-14 victory in the Class 1A South Region championship game held at Woodlawn High.
The second-seeded Titans gained 486 rushing yards, led by Derrick Kittrell (11 carries, 204 yards) and Donte Gross (7 for 137).
Kittrell scored on a 98-yard touchdown on the final play of the first quarter and the Titans tied the game at 7-7 on an extra point by Ryan Marine.
That play changed the momentum of a first quarter in which the Titans gave up a 14-yard touchdown pass from Dominick Frank to Tyler Cherigo after throwing an interception.
They also allowed a 55-yard punt return by Tommy Slaysman and kicked a punt that went just six yards.
It all changed when Kittrell got the ball at his own two-yard line.
“We knew they were going to blitz all the gaps so we called a good 23 lead and I just hit the hole and saw the cutback lane and got some good blocks downfield and just took it the distance with my speed,” said Kittrell, who also added a 38-yard interception return for a score in the fourth quarter.
“Derrick is one heckuva ballplayer and he came up big on both sides of the ball tonight,” New Town coach Joe Holland said.
Gross ran for touchdowns of 33 and 34 yards and caught a 68-yard TD pass from Shawn Maggison, giving the Titans a 20-7 lead on the first play of the second half.
His first touchdown run, followed by Ryan Marine’s extra point, gave the Titans a 14-7 lead with 1:48 left in the first half.
“We were down a little bit, but then we started running on the outside and they couldn’t touch us so we just did what we had to do on the outside,” said Gross, nicknamed ‘Tebow.’
After Gross’s long TD catch, Maverick quarterback Dominick Frank connected with Cherigo again, making it 20-14 with 8:34 left in the third quarter.
After an 11-play, 69-yard drive by the Mavericks, they fumbled on the first play of the fourth quarter and it was recovered by New Town’s Jordan Manns.
New Town scored 27 unanswered points in the final 11:08 to seal a trip to the Class 1A final four.
Ryan Marine and Ka’Sean Coles had touchdown runs over 20 yards each during that fourth quarter explosion.
New Town had 11 plays from scrimmage that gained over 20 yards, including nine running plays behind a line that included center Vincent Minor, guards Jordan Bolt and Aaron Scott and tackles Henry Ogbuli and Joe Brown.
“This team has a lot of resiliency,” Holland said. “They could have easily laid down, but they choose not to and I’m proud of all of them.”
The defense bent but didn’t break all night against a Maverick aerial assault that had Frank flinging it 39 times.
He completed 14 for 254 yards and Cherigo caught six passes for 104 yards, but it wasn’t enough against a secondary that include Ryan Marine, Bryan Marine, Kittrell and Gross.
Frank was scrambling all night away from rushing Titans that included Ogbuli, Damarco Spears, Myron Williams, Chris Fatogoma and Brown.
Ogbuli was the only one to get a sack for the Titan defense that also limited held the Mavericks to 122 yards rushing.
Next up for New Town is the Class 1A state semifinals and Kittrell couldn’t pick a better bunch of guys to be going with him there.
“We came out hard and we fought,” Kittrell said. “I love our team, our intensity and our will is so great.”