The Covington News - - SPORTS -

on their third drive when Mid­dle­brooks found Mike Mathi­son wide open across the mid­dle of the field for a 24-yard scor­ing strike that gave New­ton a 6-0 lead at the 5:03 mark of the first quar­ter.

South Gwin­nett tried to an­swer with a long drive of its own, but the nine-play march was stopped short af­ter New­ton halted the Comets on a 4th and 3 pass play that gained two and a half yards.

New­ton’s de­fense stiff­ened again, forc­ing a South Gwin­nett three-and-out, and the Rams re­sponded with a 17-play, 98-yard drive that was capped by Jer­rol Hines’ seven yard touch­down re­cep­tion that stretched New­ton’s lead to 13-0 with 3:45 left be­fore half­time.

On that drive, Nuru Tinch had gains of eight and 16 yards. It would be the most ac­tion he would get Fri­day night, as Banks sat his star tail­back in the sec­ond half with what he said was an up­set stom­ach.

“We’ve got lots of stuff go­ing on back at the school with stom­ach viruses and stuff,” Banks said. “We thought he was good, but he had some symp­toms at half time. So we sat him. We know what (Adar­ius Thomas) can do.”

Thomas helped fill the void with his 70 rush­ing yards on 14 car­ries and four catches for 71 re­ceiv­ing yards and a score he tacked on late in the game. Thomas said he was proud to be able to de­liver when called upon.

“It feels good to help my team and con­tribute,” Thomas said. “It’s our first win on the board (for re­gion play). That al­ways feels good.”

New­ton’s 13-0 lead would take them into half­time, and kicker Vic­tor Pinedo added a 19-yard field goal to cli­max New­ton’s first drive of the third quar­ter.

South Gwin­nett fi­nally found the score­board late in the third quar­ter when quar­ter­back Ant­won Hunter hooked up with Amin Hall for a 60-yard scor­ing toss, cut­ting New­ton’s lead to 16-6. But Jef­feries and com­pany would make sure the Comets’ mo­men­tum would be short lived.

Af­ter that touch­down, South Gwin­nett would find lit­tle of­fense the rest of the way. And New­ton tacked on two more scores — one, a 27-yard strike to Jer­rol Hines that gave New­ton a 23-8 ad­van­tage, and the other, a 21-yard toss to Thomas that pro­vided the fi­nal mar­gin with 4:52 left in reg­u­la­tion.

The win raised New­ton’s record to 5-1 and 1-0 in re­gion play, and marked the third straight re­gion opener the Rams have won.

Af­ter­ward, Banks couldn’t stop rav­ing about how pleased he was with his team’s per­for­mance, fresh off a 48-17 win at Her­itage and just two weeks re­moved from the 57-0 de­ba­cle at No. 2 Lown­des.

“I tell our kids three things: Play the next play, it don’t mat­ter what hap­pens — get bet­ter, and your re­sponse to what­ever hap­pens to you de­ter­mines the out­come,” Banks said. “We lost to Lown­des, but since then, they for­got about it and they’ve just played the next game and the next play ever since. I love these boys and I’m very proud of them.”

And he’s also ready to see if his bunch can re­deem them­selves against an­other ranked op­po­nent when No. 3 Archer (50, 0-0) comes to town next Satur­day af­ter a bye week this past Fri­day.

Banks says there will be no need for a lot of rah-rah and hype speeches for that one.

“We don’t have to, be­cause we know we don’t get any re­spect,” he said. “Not from the AJC, no coaches poll, no­body who writes for all these out­lets. Check on Thurs­day. It’ll be Archer plus 20, be­cause they’re No. 3 in the state and we got blown out by Lown­des. That’s all they’re gonna be talk­ing about, so I don’t have to tell my boys any­thing. They’re gonna be ready to go.”

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