Raiders nip Panthers 17-16 in OT
A pumped up Santa Fe High School football team came out on top of Newberry High School for the first time since the 2005 season.
With Tommy Keeler making his much anticipated return to Newberry on Friday night as Santa Fe's coach, it just seemed fitting that the annual season-opening matchup between the Raiders and Panthers would be decided in overtime.
In the end, it was Keeler's new team, Santa Fe, that came out on top.
A packed house at Panther Stadium saw the Raiders edge Newberry 17-16 in overtime in what was an emotional contest for both sides.
Newberry failed to convert its extra point attempt in overtime that would have continued the game.
While the Panthers felt heartbreak, the Raiders jumped around, celebrating their first win over Newberry since 2005.
Keeler, who coached Newberry to victories in each of the last five meetings, has now won six straight in this series.
"It has been so long since these guys have won," Keeler said. "We have something to build on finally. It is a great win to have"
Quarterback D.L. Powell got things rolling for the Raiders (1-0) on their second play from scrimmage. The fleet-footed junior, broke off a 59-yard scoring run down the right side to give Santa Fe a 7-0 edge, with just a under minute gone by in the game. Powell ran for 104 yards on 13 carries and was also 4-of-6 passing for 39 yards on the evening. However, 1:15 into the second period, Newberry (0-1) pulled even as Brandon Herbert rolled to his left and connected with Monte Seabrook on a 26-yard touchdown pass in the back left corner of the end zone.
The clubs then exchanged field goals which made it a 10-10 affair heading into halftime. Ryan Butcher drilled a 42-yard field with 5:40 to play in the second quarter, before Newberry's Dylan Leschanz answered with a 26-yard field goal as time expired for the first half.
The Panthers then opened the third quarter and did a great job of controlling the ball and the clock for all but 1:07 of the period. The lengthy drive was fueled by Troy Fowler's 29 yard pass to Devonte Flagg on a fake punt and a Santa Fe roughing the kicker penalty. Although Newberry dominated the time of possession to open the second half, it had no points to show for it as Leschanz was wide left on his 22-yard field goal attempt.
After both teams went back and forth, Santa Fe got a big play from its defense and was in good shape to win the game in regulation. Verntario Jenkins intercepted a Herbert pass at midfield and brought it back 40 yards down to the Newberry 10-yard line with 1:11 left in the fourth quarter. In the closing seconds, Butcher came on for a 28-yard field goal attempt. The Panthers smothered the attempt with 8 seconds left as the game headed into overtime.
Brandon Willis opened overtime for Santa Fe with a four-yard scoring run. Butcher, who also averaged 42.6 yards on three punts, followed with his second extra point of the game to gave the Raiders a 17-10 cushion.
Fowler, who rushed for 90 yards on 17 carries, crossed the goal line from one-yard out to make it a one-point game. The Panthers then had a bad exchange on the extra point try, which provided the final margin.
"We gave a great effort," said Newberry coach Chris Baker, who was the Panthers' defensive coordinator for three years under Keeler. "I should have gone for two down there. My gut told me to go for two, my coaches kind of said no.
"I seconded guessed myself, heck they may have stopped us, their defense played great, in the red zone especially."
Newberry finished with 143 yards rushing on 47 attempts and Herbert was 7-for-11 passing for 75 yards with the touchdown and the interception. For Santa Fe, it ended with 139 yards rushing on 27 carries. The Raiders were also slowed by 10 penalties for 96 yards. The Raiders now hold a 9-8 advantage in the last 17 meetings with the Panthers.
Keeler, who is good friends with Baker and still has ties to Newberry, was pleased with the win and is ready to move on.
"It is great to see these guys (Newberry) played their hearts out too. They came to win and they played good hard Newberry football," Keeler said. "I am proud of those guys, I still love those guys and I respect everything that they are doing.
"It is great because now I can go on with the season. This thing has been sitting around for a long time."
Santa Fe plays host to Dixie County this Friday, while Newberry heads to Fort White for its week-two game.
"It was really an even ballgame and it came down to a snap," Baker said. "It was a great football game, I am sure the fans are going to leave pretty happy tonight.
"We have something to build on. If we keep getting better we'll be fine."
Santa Fe 17, Newberry 16 (Overtime)
SF- D.L. Powell 59-yard run (Ryan Butcher kick)
N- Monte Seabrook 26-yard pass from Brandon Herbert (Dylan Leschanz)
SF- Butcher 42-yard field goal
N- Leschanz 26-yard field goal
SF- Brandon Willis 4-yard run (Butcher kick)
N- Troy Fowler 1-yard run (kick failed)
Santa Fe Newberry
First downs 6 17
Rushes-yards 27-139 47-143
Passing yards 39 104
Comp-att-int 4-6-0 8-12-1
Fumbles-lost 1-0 3-0
Punts-avg 3-42.6 2-34.5
Penalties-yards 10-96 8-53
PASSING: SF- D.L. Powell 4-for-6, 39 yards;N- Brandon Herbert 7-for-11, 75 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
RUSHING: SF- Powell 13-104 yards, 1 TD; N- Troy Fowler 17-90 yards, 1 TD
RECEIVING: SF- Tray Presley 2-36 yards; N- Monte Seabrook 3-45 yards 1 TD