New Town got its first taste of state football playoff action Friday night, and the Titans must have liked it. They scored in each quarter and then put up two defensive stands in the final minutes to edge host Perryville, 28-27, in the Class 1A semifinals.
"A very proud moment, a very proud moment for the team," said fifth-year New Town coach Joe Holland, whose team improved to 11-2. "Things were not going our way, but these guys kept their head. They have come out and fought hard all year."
The game-winning points came with 5:53 to play, as New Town answered a touchdown that had put Perryville (12-1) ahead 27-21 three minutes earlier.
New Town began at its own 34-yard-line and Ka'Sean Coles ripped off a 37-yard run on first down. A 18-yard run by Coles gave the Titans first-and-goal at the Panthers' 9.
Two snaps later, Ryan Marine scored from three yards out, and his extra point was the difference.
New Town's defense then stepped up and denied the Panthers twice, first time at the Titans' 10 and the second to seal the game.
Perryville was facing a fourth-and-3 in that first opportunity, and a fumbled snap led to a 3-yard loss.
The Titans were forced to punt the ball back to the Panthers with 1:33 left in the game. A first down pass covered 12 yards, but New Town's Ryan Marine intercepted Perryville's next pass, and two kneel downs ended it.
The Titans grabbed a 8-0 lead on the game's first possession, as Derrick Kittrell (21 carries, 103 yards) scored on a 16-yard run and Coles added the two-point conversion on a pitch.
New Town took advantage of a muffed punt to set up Kittrell's (21 carries, 103 yards) second touchdown run from 8 yards out with 1:32 left in the first half.
Perryville closed to within a point, 15-14, on Ethan Griffin's third-quarter touchdown, but George Smith's interception led to points for New Town when Coles took a short pass from quarterback Shawn Magginson and turned it into a 66-yard touchdown.
Peaker scored for Perryville on its next possession to tie the game at 21-21, and Griffin added his second score a short time later to put the Panthers in front. But that only set up New Town's late game heroics.
"It's a big accomplishment for us, a big accomplishment for New Town," Magginson said.
The Titans will face the winner of today's Dunbar-Brunswick game in the Class 1A state final Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium.