The New Palestine football team dropped a 26-24 decision to Zionsville Friday in the Class 5A Sectional 12 championship game.
Zionsville kicker Chris Freeman hit a 48-yard field goal with seven seconds left to give the Eagles the victory, coming moments after the Dragons had taken the lead.
Zach Neligh hit Jaxon Manes in the corner of the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown pass with 50 seconds left to give the Dragons the lead, capping a 10-play, 51-yard drive with the season on the line that was carried by several runs by Neligh and Luke Canfield to get the Dragons into the red zone.
Zionsville took over on its own 40 and completed three passes to get into field goal range. Freeman’s line-drive kick carried over the crossbar to put the Eagles on top.
Zionsville took a 10-0 lead with the first two possessions, but the Dragons responded to take the lead. Neligh and Manes hooked up from 13 yards out to cut the deficit to 10-7 at the end of the first quarter. The first of Colby Jenkins’ two interceptions set up a 38-yard field goal by Alex Kropp midway through the second.
NP then took the lead on a 60-yard run by Neligh, in which he carried around left end, cut across the middle and used downfield blocking to elude the Eagles down the right sideline.
Zionsville tied the game on the final drive of the first half, then stopped NP on downs on the 35 and scored on its first possession of the second half to take a 23-17 lead. The Dragons drove to the Eagles’ 7 early in the fourth, but the drive stalled on downs. After allowing two first downs, the Red Rage forced a punt and gave the ball back to the offense with 3:32 left to take the lead.
Canfield ran for 69 yards and Neligh 64. Neligh threw for 114 yards, with 49 going to Colby Jenkins.
The Dragons finish their season 10-1.
Zionsville (7-5) 10-7-6-3 — 26
New Palestine (10-1) 7-10-0-7 — 24
Z-Hull 5 pass from Wiseman (Freeman kick), 9:29
Z-Freeman 38 FG, 3:19
NP-Manes 13 pass from Neligh (Kropp kick), :34
NP-Kropp 38 FG, 6:23
NP-Neligh 60 run (Kropp kick), 3:24
Z-Nelson 2 run (Freeman kick), :41
Z-Canada 9 pass from Wiseman (Freeman kick), 6:58
NP-Manes 14 pass from Neligh (Kropp kick), :50
Z-Freeman 48 FG, :07
First downs: Z 19, NP 14
Rushes-yards: Z 46-180, NP 39-138
Passing C-A-I: Z 13-32-2; NP 10-28-0
Passing yards: Z 184; NP 116
Total offense: Z 78-364; NP 67-244
Fumbles-lost: Z 3-0; NP 0-0
Penatlies-yards: Z 8-73; NP 2-30
Rushing: Briar 17-69, Nelson 11-56, Fossett 8-54, Wiseman 7-19, Hull 1-0
Passing: Wiseman 13-32-2-184
Receiving: Hull 3-65, Fossett 4-46, Canada 3-29, Decoursey 2-44
Rushing: Canfield 18-69, Neligh 18-64, Glover 3-5
Passing: Neligh 10-28-0-116
Receiving: Hoffman 4-29, Jenkins 3-49, Manes 3-38