STERLING – The Newman Comets took over on downs at the Monmouth-Roseville 49-yard line with 5 minutes, 48 seconds left, clinging to a five-point lead. What followed was a string of plays that seemed like someone was hitting the repeat button on some remote control. The result was a nail-in-the-coffin touchdown run by Brian Bahrs that sealed a 26-14 win in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs Saturday at Roscoe Eades Stadium. The Comets advance to play at Wilmington next Saturday. “I love it when we start hitting those 4- and 5-yard plays,” Bahrs said. “We know that takes it out of the other team, and it just gets us rolling down the field. We like big plays, but Newman football is to grind it out.” Nick Rude, the workhorse for the Comets with 27 carries and 179 yards, started the drive with a 7-yard run to the 42. After that, it was a barrage of 3- and 4-yard plunges by Bahrs, Rude and sophomore Dillan Heffelfinger which ate clock and forced the Titans to burn all three of their timeouts. Bahrs wrapped it up with a 1-yard TD dive on fourth down with 1 minute, 3 seconds left. “That’s as physical of a team as we’ve seen all season,” Monmouth-Roseville coach Jeremy Adolphson said. “It starts on their line and continues with their backs. They just wear you down. “You know it’s going to be tough when you see all those state champions in wrestling in the backfield.” Mac Olson intercepted Monmouth-Roseville’s Dillon Frieden on the ensuing drive to end the game. The game was tied at 7 at halftime after the Titans drove 86 yards in the last 4:53 of the second quarter, thanks to two long pass plays. Martel Hunter capped it with a 2-yard drive. Newman answered the drive with big plays of its own on the opening drive of the third quarter. Rude took the first carry of the half 38 yards to the Monmouth-Roseville 28. Bahrs followed with a 16-yard scamper to the 12. Four plays later, Heffelfinger scored from 4 yards out to put Newman up 13-7. “I think Nick’s run set the tone for the rest of the game,” Newman coach Mike Papoccia said. “Brian followed right up after that. I just think we started playing harder and running harder.” “We didn’t expect to get the long runs against them,” Rude said. “With Martel Hunter back there at safety, we knew he was going to be able catch all of us. But we did break a couple, and that was huge.” After a long return gave Monmouth-Roseville great field position at the Newman 41, the Titans turned the ball over on downs at the 34. The Comets kept rolling, as Bahrs stared the drive with a 12-yard run. Eight plays later, Heffelfinger once again pushed through the line for a touchdown that put Newman up 19-7. Monmouth-Roseville answered that drive with a 13-play drive which ended with Hunter scoring on an 8-yard run. That drew the Titans within five points with 11:12 to go in the game. Hunter, who finished with 1,704 rushing yards for the season, was held to 72 yards on 27 carries.
Star of the game: Brian Bahrs, Newman, 91 rushing yards, 2 TDs; also 11 tackles, 5 solo
Key performers: Martel Hunter, Monmouth-Roseville, 27 carries, 72 yards, 2 TDs; Nick Rude, Newman, 27 carries, 179 yards; Jacob Barnes, Newman, 5 tackles, 2 for loss
Up next: Class 3A quarterfinals, Newman at Wilmington, time TBA