NEWPORT — Stunning. Unbelievable. Heartbreaking.

There are plenty of adjectives to describe the crushing end to the Nokomis football season on a raw and chilly Saturday afternoon against perennial playoff contender Foxcroft.

Trailing by six points, the Ponies stunned the Warriors when Hunter Smith bobbed, juked and weaved his way for an incredible 57-yard touchdown run as time expired.

After a timeout, Smith then plowed into the end zone on the two-point conversion to give Foxcroft (5-3) the come-from-behind 8-6 victory.

“I had to make a play,” Smith said. “We had run three plays and nothing had happened so I knew I had to do something.”

The 6-foot-3 Smith did.

Filling in at quarterback for injured starter Hunter Law, Smith took the direct snap, broke through the Nokomis line and bolted into open space. He shed one tackle, then another and then cut down the near sideline.

“I then got an awesome block from (Caleb) Edgerly and I was gone,” said Smith, who rushed for a game-high 142 yards. “If Edgerly doesn’t make that block, I get tackled and then it’s game, set, match.”
Foxcroft started its final drive on its own 26-yard line with 34 seconds to play.

After two incompletions, Smith rushed for a 17-yard gain to put the Ponies at their own 43. Smith hurried to the line and spiked the ball with less than 10 seconds remaining.

“We noticed (Nokomis) was loose in coverage,” Foxcroft coach Danny White said, “and it was a good opportunity to run it. When Smith gets into the open field, he’s dangerous. It was better than just throwing it. It was just a matter of getting him to the open field.”

Smith and his offensive line took care of that. The Ponies got a great surge up front and Smith bolted into the second level of the defense.

“I knew he was gone when he got into open space,” White said.

Added Nokomis coach Matt O’Connell, whose team finished 3-5: “I really just don’t know what to say. To his credit, he made a play. He made a heck of a play. Great players make great plays. From our end, though, I just don’t know what to say.”

Foxcroft used its last timeout after the touchdown to set up the two-point conversion attempt for the win.

Again, the Ponies put the ball in Smith’s hands, and again he delivered. Smith rushed off tackle and squirted into the end zone to secure the victory.

“Unbelievable,” he said. “We were down the whole game and just pulled this out. It’s just incredible.”

The teams played a scoreless first half before Nokomis grabbed the lead when senior quarterback Dominic Erickson threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Ray Girroir with 3:43 left in the third quarter. The two-point conversion play failed and Nokomis had a 6-0 lead.

The Warriors seemingly put the game away when Erickson rushed for a 61-yard touchdown run with 5:43 left in the fourth, but the play came back on an illegal procedure call.

The Warriors had another chance to ice the game late but turned the ball over on downs on the Foxcroft 27 with 34 seconds left, which set up the game-winning drive.

“In a way, this is a microcosm of our season,” O’Connell said. “We came up a few inches short. We’re learning how to get those inches. We’ll get them eventually.”

Noah Kershner rushed for 88 yards to lead Nokomis.

Bill Stewart — 621-5640
[email protected]

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