NEW­TON

The Covington News - - SPORTS -

caus­ing a live ball sit­u­a­tion. Drew re­cov­ered the ball that the Rams’ 28 yard line.

“We’ve got to un­der­stand what ‘Peter’ means, and get away from the ball on punt re­turns,” Banks said.

The mis­take was costly, as six plays later, Drew tail­back De­ri­onta Kemp pushed in from seven yards as the re­cip­i­ent of an op­tion pitch from quar­ter­back Gary Tyner. The score gave Drew a 6-0 lead at the 3:38 mark of the first quar­ter.

Penal­ties and mis­cues would hin­der the Rams again on the sub­se­quent kick­off, as Lewis bolted 80 yards on the kick­off re­turn, but it again was negated, thanks to an­other block in the back penalty which set the Rams back to their own 25 yard line.

New­ton set­tled down on of­fense and be­gan feed­ing Tinch who ripped off three straight gains of 10 or more yards. But then a big pass play to Ryan Bur­ton was negated by an il­le­gal par­tic­i­pa­tion in­frac­tion which stalled out an­other drive.

Af­ter New­ton’s de­fense forced Drew into a three­and-out, the Rams would fi­nally get on the board once Tinch rum­bled for 38 yards to the Ti­tan one yard line, then low­ered his right shoul­der on the next play and pushed his way into the end zone to tie the game at 6 with 11 min­utes re­main­ing in the se­cond quar­ter.

The Rams seemed to be get­ting on a roll when, on its next of­fen­sive pos­ses­sion, they capped a 9-play, 62yard drive with a two-yard score from ju­nior tail­back Adar­ius Thomas at the 5:13 mark in the se­cond quar­ter.

New­ton had a chance to put some real dis­tance be­tween it­self and Drew be­fore half­time, as the Rams forced an­other three-and-out, and Tinch be­gan to take con­trol with big runs of 15 and 12 yards. Tinch’s third carry of the drive had him with a full head of steam to­ward the end zone, but he fum­bled and Drew re­cov­ered on its own five.

Then, with just one minute re­main­ing be­fore half­time, Tyner hooked up with ju­nior wide­out Tyrek Press­ley for an 87 yard scor­ing strike. The missed two point con­ver­sion left New­ton with a 13-12 half­time ad­van­tage.

The Tinch fum­ble seemed to get un­der Banks’ craw, as he ex­plained it to be the rea­son why the 6-foot, 212-pound tail­back didn’t see ac­tion in the se­cond half.

“The ball is the most pre­cious thing on that field,” Banks said. Then he waxed elo­quent, para­phras­ing a quote from Ge­or­gia Tech foot­ball coach­ing leg­end, John Heis­man.

“It’s bet­ter to die as a young boy than to fum­ble the foot­ball,” Banks said. “The ball was fum­bled.”

Tinch’s se­cond half ab­sence gave way to a bit of dis­cov­ery, how­ever, as New­ton fans got the chance to see se­nior Bur­ton go to work.

With less than six min­utes to go in the third quar­ter, Bur­ton sliced through the mid­dle of Drew’s de­fense for a 66-yard gain. Then three plays later, Bur­ton pounded in from one yard out to ex­tend what was a 19-12 lead to 25-12 at the five minute mark of the third quar­ter.

“Ryan ran phe­nom­e­nally tonight,” Banks said. “He ran be­hind his pads. He ran with in­ten­sity. He was a young man that got his chance and did well.”

Be­fore that play se­quence by Bur­ton, se­nior quar­ter­back, My­ron Mid­dle­brooks also made the most of his op­por­tu­ni­ties to show his improved de­ci­sion mak­ing in the pass­ing game.

Af­ter se­nior safety and Navy foot­ball com­mit, Jai­son Tay­lor stepped in front of a Tyner pass and fell out of bounds with the in­ter­cep­tion, giv­ing New­ton the ball at the Drew 39, Mid­dle­brooks went to work.

He kept alive what could’ve been a dead-end drive when he con­nected with Jer­rol Hines over the mid­dle for 21-yard toss-and­catch on 4th and 5. It was a gam­ble on a fourth down con­ver­sion that Banks saw as re­ally no gam­ble at all.

“Ya’ll know I don’t like to punt,” he said. “Plus, I’m a math guy. I played the per­cent­ages. We thought we could get it, so we went for it.”

It ended up pos­tur­ing Mid­dle­brooks to find Lewis over the mid­dle for a two­yard touch­down pass, which gave New­ton that 19-12 lead with 8:10 left in the third.

Then Mid­dle­brooks struck through the pass­ing game again, when he con­nected with Mathi­son for a 71-yard score at the end of the third to give the Rams a 32-12 lead.

Drew would an­swer with a 21 yard Tyner-to-Jor­dan Lee score to make it 32-18 at the 7:50 mark, but 50 sec­onds later, Mid­dle­brooks would re­spond with a 25yard strike to Lewis over the mid­dle to give New­ton a 3918 ad­van­tage.

The Ti­tans added a garbage time touch­down to pro­vide the fi­nal mar­gin af­ter their de­fense re­cov­ered a New­ton high snap when the Rams had back ups in on the of­fen­sive line and at quar­ter­back.

Banks said he never doubted that his bunch was superior to their op­po­si­tion. So even at half­time when New­ton nursed a one point lead, he told his team not to panic.

“We talked about in the locker room at half­time how we were still the bet­ter team, we felt,” Banks said. “We al­lowed them to hang in the game. So we talked about not wor­ry­ing about the score, let the game come to you, don’t make mis­takes and good things will hap­pen.”

The win gave New­ton its fourth straight sea­son open­ing win, and boosted Banks’ record to 4-1 in open­ers dur­ing his five year ten­ure at the school.

Next week will be the big in-county ri­valry show­down with East­side. But be­tween now and then, Banks is in­tent on get­ting his team back to work to clean up some of the care­less­ness on the field.

“Hold­ing on to the ball,” he said. “Do­ing the lit­tle things. And then there’s some new stuff in the high school game we have to get our kids used to, like how if your hel­met comes off (the player) has to stop play­ing. It’s things like that you can’t coach a kid on un­til it hap­pens. But we think we’re go­ing to be fine.”

East­side opens its sea­son Satur­day with a 7:30 p.m. kick­off against Luella, also at Sharp Sta­dium. New­ton and East­side will meet next Fri­day at 7:30 p.m. The two teams played to a 41-41 tie last year.

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