Last-sec­ond field goal boosts New­ton past South Gwin­nett

Rams claim first Re­gion 8-AAAAAAA vic­tory, 13-12

The Covington News - - SPORTS & LIVING - MARIYA LEWTER mlewter@cov­

The New­ton High School foot­ball team got its first taste of re­gion play when the Souath Gwin­nett Comets came to town on Fri­day, and it was Pre­ston Tay­lor who gave the Rams their first re­gion 8-AAAAAAA win. Down two points with six sec­onds re­main­ing in the game, the kicker nailed a 38yard field goal to give New­ton a 13-12 vic­tory.

“We knew he had it in him,” said New­ton head coach Ter­rance Banks. “He just had to be­lieve, and he fi­nally be­lieved. He nailed two beau­ti­ful kicks. I’m so proud of him, I can’t even put it into words.”

Tay­lor’s per­for­mance def­i­nitely saved the Rams (4-1-1), who trailed for the ma­jor­ity of the sec­ond half. Both teams strug­gled of­fen­sively in the first quar­ter, with nei­ther team able to put points on the score­board. Quar­ter­back Blake Brock stepped in for an in­jured My­ron Mid­dle­brooks in the game, but he was only able to com­plete two passes in the first quar­ter.

The sec­ond quar­ter was equally slow. Both teams ap­peared life­less on of­fense, but it was the Rams’ penal­ties that helped push South Gwin­nett (4-2) down the field mul­ti­ple times. The Comets scored the first touch­down of the game with 3:31 left in the first half. The Rams earned two more pos­ses­sions be­fore the clock winded down, but it was the Comets who scored again off a field goal when New­ton failed to score again.

Down 9-0 at the start of the third, the Rams came out gun­ning. Af­ter the Comets went three and out on the first pos­ses­sion of the quar­ter, New­ton got the ball back and moved within South Gwin­nett ter­ri­tory. On fourth-and-7, a 14-yard Brock pass to Michael Mathi­son saved New­ton’s posses- sion. Af­ter a near fum­ble, Brock re­cov­ered and ran the ball 20 yards for a New­ton touch­down to bring the score to 9-7.

Penal­ties started to get the best of New­ton again as two in a row pushed the Comets down to the red zone in Rams ter­ri­tory on the next pos­ses­sion, but a fum­ble re­cov­ery by se­nior Jaquan Hen­der­son got the ball back for New­ton. The Rams took over at their own 12-yard line, and Brock turned up the heat, run­ning the ball down to South Gwin­nett’s

end of the field.

The Rams got down to the 25 yard­line, but three in­com­plete passes in a row af­ter a 9-yard run by Adar­ius Thomas caused the Rams to turn the ball over on downs. An­other three­and-out by the Comets gave the ball back to New­ton as the third quar­ter came to a close, giv­ing the Rams a chance to try again.

Af­ter the Rams failed to score on their first pos­ses­sion of the fourth, Jeremiah Bun­drage re­cov­ered an­other Comet fum­ble to re­gain the ball at the 20-yard line. A 30-yard field goal by Tay­lor then gave the Rams their first lead of the game with 9:01 left in the game.

Down 10-9 with 47 sec­onds left to play, South Gwin­nett’s Daw­son New­man scored a 33-yard field goal to put the Comets up two, caus­ing the South Gwin­nett side­lines to cel­e­brate. Mathi­son then ran the ball down to the Comet 47-yard line on the next kick, quickly hush­ing the op­pos­ing crowd, and two back-to-back car­ries by Thomas brought the Rams to the 21yard line. That’s when Tay­lor stepped in to win the game.

Brock played his first full game at quar­ter­back, and af­ter a shaky first half, he helped carry his team to vic­tory.

“He was the next man up,” Banks said of Brock. “He knew it was his chance, and he went to work. He did great. Once he set­tled down in the sec­ond half, he played a heck of a game.”

The Rams will now get deep into re­gion play, fac­ing foot­ball heavy­weight Grayson next week on Oct. 7. The Rams will need the fight they showed on Fri­day in or­der to re­main un­de­feat- ed in the re­gion.

“We tell them to ig­nore the cir­cum­stances,” Banks said. “We have been trail­ing in ev­ery game this year. Not one per­son on this team was scared. We have mul­ti­ple starters hurt, but that’s the fight that they’re go­ing to bring to ev­ery game.”

Sub­mit­ted photo | The Cov­ing­ton News

Blake Brock (10) runs down field agianst South Gwin­nett in New­ton’s win, 13-12, at Sharp Sta­dium Fri­day night.

An­thony Banks | The Cov­ing­ton News

Jaquan Hen­der­son cel­e­brates New­ton High ’s win against South Gwin­nett Fri­day.

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