Rams: New­ton ends sea­son on sour note with 56-20 loss to Union Grove

The Covington News - - SPORTS -

one point, we re­al­ized we were go­ing to have to play the young kids and get them ex­pe­ri­ence for the fu­ture.”

Union Grove (3-7 over­all, 2-5 Re­gion 2-AAAAA) came into the game hav­ing lost seven of its past eight. But fu­eled by the im­pres­sive run­ning of Ge­or­gia Tech signee Steven Sylvester — who has inked with the Yel­low Jack­ets as a line­backer — the Wolver­ines sim­ply over­pow­ered the Rams on the ground.

Sylvester had a field day against New­ton, rush­ing for 216 yards and four touch­downs.

“We have some ma­jor is­sues to deal with in the off­sea­son, run­ning the foot­ball and de­fen­sively,” Collins said.

De­spite trail­ing 21-0 early in the sec­ond quar­ter, the Rams (1-9, 1-6) played their way back into it thanks to Pa­trick. The elu­sive sig­nal-caller bobbed and weaved around the Wolver­ines’ blitz through­out the night, fin­ish­ing 8-for-24 for 225 yards, two touch­downs and three in­ter­cep­tions. He also rushed for a score, and gave New­ton fans a tan­ta­liz­ing look at how ex­cit­ing the fu­ture may be.

“I’m go­ing to be bet­ter,” Pa­trick said. “Be­ing a fresh­man start­ing quar­ter­back was tough, but now I’ve got ex­pe­ri­ence. Next year, I’ll al­ready know what it’s like at the var­sity level.”

Pa­trick played a key role in all three New­ton touch­downs. He hit ju­nior re­ceiver Demetrius McCray with a beau­ti­ful touch pass down the left side­line for a 75-yard touch­down. Pa­trick scored on a 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal, and then brought New­ton within 35-20 on a 49-yard scor­ing strike to De­An­dre Rashada with only 3.9 sec­onds left in the open­ing half.

The 20 points New­ton scored is a sea­son high, and the Rams did it in nine min­utes, 14 sec­onds of the sec­ond quar­ter.

Un­for­tu­nately, they sim­ply could not stop the Wolver­ines, who rolled up 321 yards of to­tal of­fense in the first half. And it started early. Union Grove’s Dono­van John­son busted loose up the mid­dle on the open­ing kick­off for a 65-yard re­turn to the New­ton 30. Kicker Matt Veal saved a touch­down.

The Wolver­ines needed just four plays to reach the end zone. Sylvester fin­ished the drive with a 4-yard run and just 1:52 into the game, the Rams trailed 6-0.

Af­ter New­ton went three­and-out on its ini­tial pos­ses­sion, the Wolver­ines marched 51 yards on six plays. Ger­ald Reed raced 17 yards up the mid­dle for a touch­down, and Sylvester added the two-point con­ver­sion run to make it 14-0 Union Grove with five min­utes left in the open­ing quar­ter.

It got worse for the Rams. A 13-play, 54-yard drive by the Wolver­ines chewed six min­utes off the clock, and Union Grove reached the end zone again on a 12-yard run by Sylvester with 9:34 to go in the first half.

But down 21-0, the Rams fi­nally were able to put some­thing to­gether on of­fense. And they struck quickly.

On first-and-10 from the New­ton 25, McCray slipped be­hind the cov­er­age off the line of scrim­mage. Pa­trick hit him in stride, and McCray raced 75 yards to the end zone. Veal nailed the ex­tra point, and sud­denly the Rams were in the game, down 21-7 with 9:17 to go be­fore half­time.

The play gave the Rams a spark, and it showed on the en­su­ing kick­off. Veal put down an on­side kick, and se­nior Kirk But­ler pounced on the loose ball for the Rams, giv­ing New­ton pos­ses­sion.

A penalty on the play pushed New­ton back to its 49, but two plays later, Pa­trick and McCray hooked up again, this time for 30 yards to move the Rams to the Union Grove 15.

But just when it ap­peared the Rams were about to reach the end zone again and cut the deficit to just seven points, the Wolver­ines snuffed out the drive. Union Grove’s Wade Oglesby in­ter­cepted Pa­trick at the 8-yard line.

Seven plays later, Union Grove was in the end zone again. Sylvester car­ried five times on the march, the last one go­ing off right tackle for 11 yards and the touch­down to put New­ton in a 27-7 hole with 4:58 re­main­ing in the first half.

The Rams, sparked by Pa­trick and McCray, an­swered. A screen pass to the right side went for 23 yards. Four plays later, a screen to the left gained 27 yards, push­ing the Rams to the Union Grove 10.

On third-and-goal from the 7, Pass scram­bled left but was knocked out of bounds at the 1 by Ter­rance Green. Fac­ing fourth-and-goal from the 1, Pass dove over the left side of the line and into the end zone, cap­ping a nine-play, 75-yard drive. Veal drilled the ex­tra point, and the Rams found them­selves only down 27-14 with 2:58 left in the open­ing half.

Once again, Union Grove — led by Sylvester — re­sponded.

On the sec­ond play of the en­su­ing drive, from the Wolver­ines’ 13, Sylvester broke loose down the right side­line, and used a nifty cut­back move to break free and reach the end zone. The 87-yard touch­down run pushed his to­tal above 200 for the night, and Reid Moss’ two-point con­ver­sion run made it 35-14 Wolver­ines with 2:04 re­main­ing in the half.

It looked like that would be the half­time score, es­pe­cially when the teams swapped pos­ses­sions and New­ton took over on downs at its 37 with 23.8 sec­onds left.

But that was more than enough time for Pa­trick to make things hap­pen for the Rams.

He found McCray — who caught six passes for 170 yards — for 15 yards and a first down at the Union Grove 48. Then, Pa­trick slipped through the Union Grove rush, rolled right and found a wide-open Rashada for a 48-yard touch­down, pulling the Rams to within 35-20 at in­ter­mis­sion.

“We just came out and didn’t ex­e­cute at first,” said Pa­trick, whose 225 pass­ing yards all came in the first two quar­ters. “We got out there and started ex­e­cut­ing.”

Union Grove blew it wide open in the third quar­ter. Oglesby blocked a punt and Dar­ren Mays re­turned it for a touch­down, and Moss scored on runs of 15 and 51 yards to com­plete the scor­ing.

Collins hoped the Rams could win a few games in his first sea­son and build en­thu­si­asm for the pro­gram. In­stead, he’s had to en­dure through a rough de­but cam­paign in Cov­ing­ton, but with so many fresh­men and sopho­mores earn­ing var­sity play­ing time, Collins is con­fi­dent the fu­ture of the New­ton pro­gram is bright.

“There is a lot of prom­ise here,” he said. “The peo­ple in New­ton County and with the New­ton County School Sys­tem have a lot to look for­ward to.”

So, too, does his quar­ter­back, who now — as can many of his team­mates — shed the in­ex­pe­ri­enced la­bel.

“We are very op­ti­mistic about next year,” Pa­trick said. “I feel good about our fu­ture.”

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