Newton County Cougars blank West Lauderdale
By By Rocky Higginbotham/special to The Star
September 28, 2002
DECATUR Newton County's coaches swear their team needs steady improvement on the offensive side of the ball; while opposing coaches say the Cougars are simply coasting along until they need to step it up.
Either way, both sides agree on one thing: The Cougars are winning with outstanding defense.
Newton County celebrated homecoming Friday night by holding West Lauderdale to 37 yards of offense, and the Cougars blanked the Knights 28-0 in a Region 5-3A contest.
Newton County outgained West 307-37 in total yardage and had 19 first downs compared to just two for the Knights one on West's first offensive possession of the game and another in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter. The Cougars ran 61 offensive plays, while the Knights had 34 snaps.
West, which fell to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in region play, knew it had to find an offensive option other than highly-touted tailback Carlessio Blanks recognizing the Cougars planned to key on Blanks who was injured in last week's loss to Heidelberg.
The result? Blanks ran eight times for a minus (-11) yards, and the Knights combined to run it 18 times for a minus (-26) team total. Had it not been for C. Jay Fountain's 8-of-16 passing performance that netted 63 yards, West could have been on the wrong side of zero.
Newton County, 5-0 and 1-0 and ranked 12th in the state, scored on its first two possessions.
The first came on an eight-play, 66-yard drive, culminating with a 4-yard touchdown run by Terrance Patrick. The second score was a 7-yard burst by Darryl Mapp, bringing to end a seven-play, 56-yard drive. Taylor Nichols added the PAT kick after both scores, and the Cougars were up 14-0 in the first quarter.
Newton County had two other eight-play drives in the first half, but one ended with an interception and the other in a missed field goal. But with 1:32 left in the half, an interception return of 32 yards by Trellis Skinner set the Cougars up at the West 25-yard line.
On the next play, Colby Amis hit a laid-out Del Murrell on a 25-yard TD pass, and Nichols' kick made it 21-0 at halftime.
The final score came with 3:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, when Mapp bulled his way in from 10 yards out, and Nichols again added the PAT.
Newton County finished with 307 yards, with Mapp running for 88 on 16 carries and Amis 85 on 12 carries. Murrell caught all five of Amis' completions for 59 yards.
The Cougars hit the road next week to take on Choctaw Central, while West returns to Collinsville to host Philadelphia. Both are region games.