ANGOLA — Bronson Yoder rushed for 288 yards Friday night against Angola.
He needed 289.
On a 4th and 1 from the Angola 16 with 2:45 left in the game, Yoder was stopped behind the line by Hornets linebacker Luke Honer. NorthWood had one last chance to score with 20 seconds left, but Nate Newcomer’s Hail Mary pass attempt fell short and Angola won the class 4A, sectional 19 final, 27-26.
“What do you say? You can’t bet against our guys,” Angola head coach Andy Thomas said. “We have tough kids. They work awfully hard at it. I’m not surprised by anything they do.”
It was the second-straight season the Hornets ended the Panthers’ season in the postseason. Angola beat NorthWood, 28-21 in overtime in the sectional semifinal in 2017. NorthWood finishes the season with an 11-1 record.
“They made great plays. They have great, physical kids,” NorthWood head coach Nate Andrews said. “They made more plays than we did.”
Angola stopped Yoder on another fourth down earlier in the fourth quarter. After a 78-yard run from Yoder put the Panthers at the Hornets’ 11-yard line, Angola forced NorthWood into a 4th and 2 from the three-yard line.
Trailing by one, Andrews elected to go for it instead of attempting a go-ahead field goal. Yoder took the direct snap and was met at the line by a host of Hornets defenders.
NorthWood was held scoreless in the final 21:07 of the game.
“Six points is more than three points,” Andrews said.
The two fourth-down stops of Yoder proved to be the difference Friday night.
“We know that number nine (Yoder) is getting the ball. He’s maybe the best player in the state,” Thomas said. “We just made a play.”
Yoder had another spectacular night, rushing for two touchdowns along with his 288 yards. He had touchdown runs of 35 and 80, the later of which gave NorthWood a 26-15 lead with 9:07 left in the third quarter. He finished the 2018 season with 2,325 rushing yards and 28 rushing touchdowns.
Yoder also had a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that turned an 8-6 deficit into a 12-8 lead in the second quarter. He had 33 total touchdowns in 2018.
“He’s left a legacy that’ll last forever, but so has this entire team,” Andrews said.
Angola responded to the 26-15 deficit by scoring two unanswered touchdowns. Hornets quarterback Jarrett Gibson tossed a 46-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Luevanos to make it 26-21.
After a NorthWood three-and-out, Angola drove down the field and capped off a scoring drive with a Gibson five-yard pass to Luke Honer. The Hornets took a 27-26 lead and never surrendered it.
“It’s not the first time it’s happened like this for us,” Thomas said. “Our kids were tremendous. I mean, what else is there to say?”
It’s the second-straight gut-wrenching end to the season for NorthWood. The Panthers were ranked No. 1 in the final regular season poll and won the Northern Lakes Conference outright. Despite all the success, the season falls three weeks short for the Panthers players and coaches.
“We use every moment as teachable moments, whether it be a huge one like this or a small one,” Andrews said. “That’s why we play this great game, that’s why we coach it. I wish I would’ve made some better calls. The kids absolutely played their hearts out.”
Angola advances to play Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger in the regional final next Friday.
Austin Hough can be reached at email@example.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 325. Follow Austin on Twitter @AustinHoughTGN
ANGOLA 27, NORTHWOOD 26
NorthWood 6 12 8 0 26
Angola 2 13 14 0 27
A – Snap goes over punter’s head and through the end zone for a safety, 9:55 left. 2-0 Angola
N – Bronson Yoder 35-yard touchdown run, two-point conversion no good, 1:22 left. 6-2 NorthWood
A – Chase Schnepf one-yard touchdown run, extra point no good, 8:29 left. 8-6 Angola
N – Yoder 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, two-point conversion no good, 8:12 left. 12-8 NorthWood
N – Jaden Miller 61-yard touchdown run, extra point no good, 5:46 left. 18-8 NorthWood
A – Joel McCurdy 5-yard touchdown reception from Jarrett Gibson pass, extra point good, 3:35 left. 18-15 NorthWood
N – Yoder 80-yard touchdown run, two-point conversion by Yoder good, 9:07 left. 26-15 NorthWood
A – Anthony Luevanos 46-yard touchdown reception from Gibson pass, two-point conversion no good, 7:44 left. 26-21 NorthWood
A – Luke Honer five-yard touchdown reception from Gibson pass, two-point conversion no good, 1:21 left. 27-26 Angola
No scoring recorded