NEWPORT — The Nokomis Regional High School football team calls it “Lightning.” It’s the Warriors’ two-minute offense, and they run it over and over again in practice, preparing for the someday scenario when they will need it.

Someday arrived Saturday afternoon in Newport. The Warriors were down seven points to Oceanside, stranded 66 yards from the end zone, and given only 1:17 to get there.

Dire straits, some would call it. The Warriors don’t count themselves among that lot.

“It’s composure, really. We practice it three times a week,” quarterback Andrew Haining said. “I’m not nervous. We practice it a bunch. What’s the difference between in a game and in practice?”

Haining and the Warriors backed up that confidence, marching all those yards for the tying score on a 12-yard pass from Haining to running back Colby Pinette on fourth down with 10 seconds to go, then successfully going for two to pull off a dramatic 15-14 win over Oceanside.

Mired at the bottom of Class B at 0-8 a year ago, Nokomis is now 2-1 in Class C and showing the unmistakable signs of a team growing into a winner. If there were doubts as to the Warriors’ direction, Saturday afternoon erased them.


“I was more proud of the way they didn’t give up when there were three minutes left,” coach Jake Rogers said. “I could have cared less if we didn’t come out on the end, if we’d been short a yard, but we finished strong. That was the most impressive thing.”

Indeed, with three minutes to go, things looked dreary. Nokomis had crossed into Oceanside (1-2) territory but seen the drive derailed by a holding penalty, and turned the ball over to the Mariners and their powerful running attack on downs at the Oceanside 45.

The Warriors held, however, and forced a punt. They then handed the reins to Haining, who was only 1-for-5 for 10 yards through the air to that point, to use his arm to bring his team back for a final drive.

The game was on his shoulders. The junior wasn’t worried.

“I have the best teammates in the world,” Haining said. “They make a lot of plays for me. They make me look good.”

Haining looked for Tyler Pelletier with his first pass, and a pass interference call moved the ball to the Nokomis 49. Haining evaded a sack to run for 10 yards on the next play, then found Brock Graves for 20 yards across the middle of the field to the left sideline.


A fumble, spike and incomplete pass brought up fourth-and-13, however, and the drive and game seemed to end with an incompletion at the sticks until another pass interference call moved the ball to the 12 and kept the Warriors’ hopes alive.

“If anything, that’s on us, for not teaching it enough,” Oceanside coach Wes Drinkwater said. “I’m proud of my boys. I thought both teams fought hard.”

Nokomis was still left with a fourth-and-1 from the 12 with 18.4 seconds remaining. Haining drifted left away from the pressure, then saw Pinette streaking across the middle. He lofted a pass to the senior, who caught it in stride, tore up toward the end zone and dove across the pylon with 10.5 seconds to play.

“I try not to think, because overthinking is what makes you drop the ball,” Pinette said. “I don’t even have words for it. We battled the whole game, we stuck together and then we pushed through at the end.”

There was still the matter of the point after, but there was never going to be a tie. Rogers wanted to go for two, and the voice in his headset affirmed that urge.

“My assistant coach, coach (Ryan) Robinson up in the booth said ‘Fake it. Call the fire call,’ ” he said. “He goes ‘They’re going to be coming (to block the kick).’ I trusted him, and he was dead on.”


The play went off without a hitch. Haining took the snap as the kick holder but pulled up to pass, finding Chance Graves all alone in the end zone for the winning conversion.

“My hat’s off to coach Rogers for making that call,” Drinkwater said. “That’s a heck of a call to make. He got me.”

For all but the final minute, the game was in the Mariners’ control. Oceanside finally broke through on the scoreboard on Michael Norton Jr.’s 9-yard sweep with 41 seconds to go in the first half, then answered Haining’s 3-yard run that brought Nokomis within a point at 8-7 with 4:09 left in the third with a 59-yard drive, capped off by Michael Yates’s 3-yard touchdown dive with 9:44 to play.

All along, Oceanside’s ground game gave Nokomis fits. Breaking out a double-wing offense after playing the first two games out of a spread, the Mariners churned out 271 yards on 38 carries, with Norton (13 carries, 137 yards) and Ben Ripley (nine carries, 84 yards) doing most of the damage on sweeps and counter reverses.

Oceanside’s advantage in the trenches became so glaring that Rogers felt obligated to go for it on fourth-and-18 on the second-to-last drive. Kicking it away meant trusting in a final stop, one he wasn’t sure his defense could make.

“We prepped for the spread all week, we weren’t ready for the double wing,” said Rogers, whose team got 74 yards on 17 carries from Pelletier and 41 on eight carries from Pinette. “They’re big, they’re very athletic. I didn’t think we could hold up.”


The Warriors had that stop ready, however. And Haining, Pinette and the rest of the Nokomis offense were ready to take it from there.

“A team win like that, after so many years of struggling, we really came through this game,” Pinette said. “It means so much.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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