Newton Co. advances to South State
By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
TYLERTOWN The Newton County Cougars weren't supposed to do a whole lot on the gridiron this fall.
Either nobody told them that, or most likely, nobody has yet to make them believe it.
With their 10-3 win over Tylertown in the Class 3A state playoffs Friday night, the Cougars are the lone team from The Meridian Star's coverage area still standing.
Newton County, 10-2, will try to advance to the Class 3A state championship with a win over Magee next week at Decatur in the 3A South State title game.
Magee sent Wilkinson County packing 32-18 last night and ended the Cougars' season a year ago.
With a nine-game win streak to their credit, who's to argue?
Not that the Cougars didn't have to turn in a full night's work to get past Tylertown.
The Chiefs drove 44 yards to the Cougar 21 on the game's first series only to come up short on a fourth down fumble.
The Cougars' defense then bailed the team out of a potential disaster on Newton County's first drive when a rolling snap to punter David McConnell resulted in a 30-yard loss and gave Tylertown the ball at the NCHS 22.
The Chiefs came away with only a 36-yard field goal from John McBeth to take a 3-0 lead with 1:22 remaining in the first quarter.
The Cougars threatened early in the second quarter as they moved the ball 26 yards to the Tylertown 34. A 51-yard field goal try by McConnnell was just short.
After the Cougar defense forced the Chiefs into their third three-and-out, the Newton County offense got its only touchdown of the night. Starting at the Tylertown 47 following a 37-yard punt, it took seven plays to reach the end zone. The touchdown came on a 14-yard pass from Brian McDonald to Kody Comans with 1:52 left in the first half. McConnell's extra point gave the Cougars a 7-3 lead.
The Cougars then recovered the kickoff after it caromed off Tylertown's Brian Martin. Going for the jugular, the Cougars came away empty when McDonald's bomb was picked off on the next play.
Still, you felt like it wouldn't take very many more points to ice the win.
Derrek Mapp halted a Chief series in the third quarter when he swiped a Ronta McGee pass and returned it 15 yards to the Tylertown 35. The drive fizzled in three plays, but the Cougars were given new life when McConnell was roughed on a punt.
With the ball moved to the 18 on the 15-yard penalty, the Chiefs dug in and allowed only four yards, but that was plenty close enough for McConnell to split the uprights for a 32-yard field goal to put Newton County up 10-3 with 4:01 to go in the third period.
Tylertown responded with its best drive of the night, covering 48 yards to the Cougar 21 where a fourth-and-12 pass from McGee to Jason Clements came up two yards short, thanks to a vicious lick from Justin Smith.
Mark Walker stopped the Chiefs' next series when he picked off a McGee pass and returned it to the Tylertown 44.
After the Chiefs recovered a Germaine Smith fumble at the Tylertown 28, the Cougar defense turned in its last stop of the night, forcing three straight incompletions to give the ball back to the Newton County offense with 1:20 remaining.
The Cougars had only 138 total yards, 124 coming on 44 rushes and 14 coming through the air. Germaine Smith gained 84 yards on 22 carries and Darryl Mapp picked up 40 yards on 15 rushes. McDonald added 30 yards on six carries and completed 1-of-5 passes for 14 yards.
Smith and Mapp both went over the 1,000-yard mark in rushing yards this fall. Smith now has 1,083 and Mapp has 1,024. McDonald has passed for 928 yards.
Tylertown had 121 total yards, 95 rushing and 26 passing. O.J. Magee led the Chiefs with 47 yards on 13 carries, nearly all of which came in the first half. Willie Fountain added 43 yards on eight rushes.
Marty Stamper is a sports correspondent for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.