Newton High opens with win over Lake
LOOKING FOR DAYLIGHT n Newton High running back Johnny Martin gets away from a Lake defender. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
Aug. 31, 2001
NEWTON – Newton scored four unanswered touchdowns in the second half to take a 33-6 win over Lake Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.
Late afternoon thunderstorms left the E.L. Morgan Field soggy for the first meeting of the two schools on the gridiron in at least 45 years.
Newton opened the game with an impressive nine-play, 67-yard scoring drive capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Allen Hillie. The Tigers added a two-point conversion on a nifty option pass from kicker Zack Logan to Coshune Bingham to take an 8-0 lead with 8:37 left in the first quarter.
A key play on the drive was a 28-yard pass from Laderrian Blaylock to Bobby Lindsey on fourth-and-9 at the Lake 37.
Lake responded with a 13-play drive that reached the Tiger 12 before stalling.
"We had them and they ran the slip screen," Lake head coach Steve Nelson said of Newton's opening drive. "But we recovered. We moved the ball up and down the field in the first half. We had it twice and they had it twice. We couldn't get it in the first time. I probably messed up by not calling a timeout and kicking a field goal."
After a 17-play Newton drive ran out of gas at the Lake 28, the Hornets put together their lone scoring drive of the night.
Starting at their 27, the Hornets covered 73 yards in 14 plays to pull to within 8-6 with 18 seconds remaining in the first half.
The touchdown came on a 2-yard run by quarterback Joseph Hunt. A two-point attempt was initially good, but was wiped out due to a clipping penalty. The second try failed as the Tigers took that 8-6 edge into halftime.
Newton's Travaone Evans turned the game around in the first minute of the third quarter when he stripped Lake freshman Brad McCarter of the ball and raced 32 yards untouched for a score. Logan's extra point gave the Tigers a 15-6 lead with 11:04 showing in the third period.
"No question, the biggest play in the game was Evans'," Newton head coach Brad Peterson said. "Two plays in a row they had run it down our throats and were doing it again and our corner just stripped it from him and took it back for a touchdown before they even knew what happened."
"That's a freshman that got the ball taken from him and you've got to experience these growing pains," said Nelson, who graduated from Newton and has coached on the Tiger sideline as well.
Newton went up 21-6 with 1:43 left in the third quarter on a 6-yard scoring toss from Blaylock to Lindsey. Lindsey finished the night with five receptions for 62 yards.
The Tigers added a 13-yard touchdown pass from Blaylock to Lindsey and a 12-yard scoring run by Cornelius Caraway in the fourth quarter.
Newton finished with 275 total yards after losing 34 on their final two offensive plays. The Tigers ran the ball 50 times for 213 yards. Blaylock had 12 carries for 90 yards and completed 5-of-7 passes for 62 yards.
"Our kids played hard," Peterson said. "We didn't play real good defensively. Offensively, we just didn't get a whole lot of snaps in the first half.
"I thought we wore them down. I thought we were in pretty good shape and they had more kids going both ways than we did. With us being in the no-huddle, I think that helped us because it sped the game up and they got tired in the second half."
Lake had 180 total yards, 162 of which came on 36 rushes. LaDonovan Towner led the Hornets ground game with 91 yards on 14 carries after having 83 yards on a dozen rushes in the first half. Bryan Williamson added 47 yards on 10 carries.
Lake hosts Scott Central next Thursday at 7 p.m., while Newton heads up the road for the annual grudge match with Newton County in a 7:30 p.m. contest at Decatur.
"We're not a bad football team," Nelson said. "That game was closer than 33-6. That's two plays and they're in a dogfight."
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 693-1551 ext. 3234.