Game of the Week: Windsor takes NBL-Oak crown with last-second win over Cardinal Newman

It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but the closing seconds will go down as one of the most exciting and dramatic finishes in Windsor High School football history.|

WEEK 11 SCORES

Windsor 14, Cardinal Newman 13

Rancho Cotate 49, Santa Rosa 3

Analy 50, Montgomery 49

American Canyon 35, Petaluma 23

Casa Grande 24, Justin-Siena 14

Sonoma Valley 28, Napa 21

Clear Lake 22, Cloverdale 21

Roseland University Prep 22, Potter Valley 14

Piner 48, Healdsburg 16

Saturday: Maria Carrillo at St. Vincent, 2 p.m.

It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but the closing seconds will go down as one of the most exciting and dramatic finishes in Windsor High School football history.

Trailing all game, the first-place Jaguars secured their first and only lead with no time left on the clock Friday night as kicker Kailer Behrens’ extra point on the heels of Wyatt Morris’ two-yard touchdown run gave Windsor a 14-13 victory over Cardinal Newman and the North Bay League-Oak title.

It’s the first time that Windsor (8-2, 5-0) has beaten Cardinal Newman in school history and it’s the program’s first league title since 2011.

“Words probably can’t describe how I feel right now,” said first-year Windsor head coach DJ Sexton. “I’ll probably get some better wording here in a few hours when it all settles in, but this is a huge win for our program and I think it puts us on the map here in our first year.

“Our kids just played really hard,” he added. “You have to give it to our kids. We’re a young team and they showed a lot of resiliency tonight against a great team.”

Here’s how Friday’s thriller, The Press Democrat’s final regular-season Game of the Week, went down.

Final sequence

After being stymied by the Cardinals’ defense all game, Windsor got the ball back at its own 15 with just under four minutes left and finally put together a strong drive deep into Cardinals territory in the closing seconds.

With 16 seconds remaining, Windsor had first and 10 at Newman’s 10-yard line with two timeouts. Quarterback Judson Anderson got the Jaguars to the four with a run. Both teams then called consecutive timeouts.

On the next offensive play, Anderson rolled out to his left and had a wide-open Max McFerren in the end zone, but his pass floated just out of McFerren’s reach, bringing up a third down with four seconds left.

On the following play — what would have been the last of the game — Anderson was once again forced to scramble and attempted a pass to Joseph Smith in the end zone that was batted down by Kaize Steverson. The play appeared to end the game and the Cardinals started to streak off the field in celebration — until they noticed the flag.

The official in the back of the end zone called Steverson for pass interference, giving Windsor one final play from the 2-yard line with no time left. Morris cashed it in and Behrens split the uprights on the kick after.

Moments later, he was being lifted on the shoulders of his teammates as they poured onto the field in celebration.

“I had my teammates hyping me up on the sidelines,” Behrens said. “I had to make sure I didn’t get too excited because I could always miss, but that wasn’t the case.”

Morris finished with a team-high 71 rushing yards on 16 carries with both of Windsor’s touchdowns.

“I knew our squad, I knew we could get it done,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about it ever since I was a little kid — I knew one day when I grew up, we’re going to beat that team and we got it done ... we got it done.”

The PI call

The pass interference call that gave Windsor a second life was one of several on Friday night that drew objection from the Cardinals. Newman was called for 11 penalties in the second half and three alone on Windsor’s final drive. The first was a 15-yard personal foul for a head-to-head hit. The second, before the PI, was a face mask that moved the Jaguars from Newman’s 15 to the 10 with under 20 seconds left.

The PI itself will likely be debated and argued about for years to come, but those discussions won’t change reality or the outcome of the game.

When asked after the game about his thoughts on the call, Cardinal Newman coach Richard Sanchez said, “I failed to protect my players over something that they had no control over. They played their hearts out and I’m proud of them, but that’s my failure. We just have to overcome it.”

Ugly game otherwise

Outside of the thrilling final minutes, and a great opening quarter for Newman, most of Friday’s game was a bit clunky.

Newman raced out to a 13-0 start after one quarter, thanks to scores on its first two drives and a Jamari Gentry interception of Hayden Anderson. Quarterback Matt Hilden had a 1-yard keeper to start the scoring before Steverson ripped off a 31-yard scamper about five minutes later.

It look liked the Cardinals might run away with it, but Windsor finally got on the board thanks to a miscue from Newman, a muffed punt that the Jaguars recovered at Newman’s 14. Morris scored from 8 yards out two plays later to send the game into the break tied at 13-7.

In the third, neither team was able to get anything going offensively, as both defenses locked in and the penalties began to mount.

Before its 85-yard game-winning drive, Windsor managed just 51 yards of offense on 20 plays over its first two possessions of the second half. Newman, meanwhile, gained just 62 yards of offense in the second half and ran just 13 plays.

“Kids were in position to win the game and it didn’t happen, not because they didn’t have the will to do it or didn’t play hard,” Sanchez said. “They played their hearts out and I’m really proud of them, but Windsor was the better team tonight.”

Santino Acevedo was a workhorse all night for the Cardinals, as he racked up 130 rushing yards on 22 carries. Zach Kelly added 52 receiving yards on four catches.

NCS playoffs next week

While it was likely even before Friday’s game, Windsor is now guaranteed a first-round home game for the North Coast Section playoffs that open this coming Friday. The Jaguars are the reigning Division 3 champions and will likely be the No. 2 seed this year behind El Cerrito.

Despite the loss, the Cardinals will also likely have a first-round home game, as they’re in line to be a top-four seed in the Division 4 playoffs.

The NCS playoff brackets will be released around midday Sunday.

You can reach Staff Writer Gus Morris at 707-304-9372 or gus.morris@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @JustGusPD.

WEEK 11 SCORES

Windsor 14, Cardinal Newman 13

Rancho Cotate 49, Santa Rosa 3

Analy 50, Montgomery 49

American Canyon 35, Petaluma 23

Casa Grande 24, Justin-Siena 14

Sonoma Valley 28, Napa 21

Clear Lake 22, Cloverdale 21

Roseland University Prep 22, Potter Valley 14

Piner 48, Healdsburg 16

Saturday: Maria Carrillo at St. Vincent, 2 p.m.

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