GRANBY — The Kyle Wood Era in East Newton got off to an exciting start in the season opener Friday night at Don Johnston Stadium.
The visiting Hollister Tigers came out with a thrilling 23-16 victory on a 31-yard touchdown on a hook-and-ladder on a fourth-and-6 with a mere 12 seconds remaining on the clock.
Hollister returned the favor to East Newton, who pulled off a similar play to end the first half in style, as Jeremiah Stewart completed a pass to Wyatt Moore, who flipped the ball to Jackson Schriever. Schriever weaved his way through Hollister defenders en route to the end zone.
East Newton succeeded on the two-point conversion for a 9-8 halftime deficit.
Hollister built a 9-0 lead thanks to a pair of East Newton miscues — a snap went over punter Schriever’s head and out of the end zone for a safety with 6 minutes, 37 seconds remaining in the half, then a fumble recovered at the East Newton 1 set up the Tigers for the game’s first touchdown.
The teams exchanged long touchdowns in the third quarter — Hollister’s Kelby Gard made it a 16-8 game with a touchdown run and East Newton’s Sam Stewart returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown and the conversion made it a tie game.
East Newton, 0-1 overall, came the closest to winning a game during its 23-game losing streak. In fact, last season, East Newton’s closest margin of defeat was 29 against Monett.
The Patriots return to action in Week 2 against Aurora, who lost 42-0 to Cassville in the opener. The Houn Dawgs have lost seven consecutive games of their own.