Tonawanda News — Not many high school athletes get to finish their career on a game-winning touchdown.
But on Friday night Warriors RB Tim Barnard lived the dream.
On the Warriors first possession of overtime, after a missed field goal by Amherst on the opening drive of bonus football, Barnard scored the most memorable touchdown of his high school career from four yards out to lead Tonawanda to a 13-7 victory in a playoff consolation game at Clinton H. Small Stadium.
Barnard, who fumbled twice earlier in the game, could barely find the words to describe his elation. It was the perfect end to a memorable Warriors season.
“It means more than anything in the world to me,” Barnard said. “It’s the greatest feeling I’ve ever had in my life.”
After stopping the Tigers on their overtime possession, the Warriors faced 2nd and 32 from the Tigers’ 42-yard line, but on the next three plays, moved the ball to the 4-yard line. That’s when Barnard found the end zone.
“Watch us on second and 32 from the 42 yard line in overtime and turn that into a touchdown, that capsule of those five plays, those are our guys, that’s who we are,” said Tonawanda coach Rob Gross.
Both defenses performed well in the game, but failures to capitalize on opportunities on offense marked the game.
Tonawanda outplayed Amherst in the first half, but the fumbles allowed the Tigers to keep the score close. After Barnard’s second fumble the Tigers drove 55 yards in 4:10 to tie the game with 36 seconds left in the half.
Those were the last points scored in regulation.
“We moved the ball very well, but you have to finish drives,” Gross said. “And when those drives don’t finish your defense has to step up and ours did.”
Amherst controlled the ball for the majority of the second half – Tonawanda only had two drives – but both teams had drives extended when their opponent ran into the punter.
As time expired, Amherst attempted a 41-yard field goal, but the wind pushed the ball wide.
It was the second of three missed field goals by Tigers freshman Blake Haubeil, the last one coming in the first overtime period.
That was when the Warriors took over for their final drive.
Barnard finished the night rushing for 136 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, he also had a catch for 17 yards. On defense, Barnard had a team-high 17 tackles.
Junior quarterback Tristan Boling had 15 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown.
Senior Connor Pumm – who was held to only one catch on offense – had an interception and 15 tackles on defense.
After the win, Gross was relieved that his seniors were able to finish their careers with a victory.
“I’m so proud of our seniors,” Gross said. “I’m so grateful for them, they are an outstanding group and I’m just so happy for them that their last high school football game is a win.”