Surprising Langston Hughes stuns Newnan
By DREW BRANTLEY
Special to The Newnan Times-Herald
Langston Hughes’ steady dominance on both sides of the ball Friday night kept its offense moving and held down Newnan’s offense for a 34-14 region victory at Drake Stadium.
While the Panthers were taking advantage of its offensive opportunities, the Cougars could not move the ball across midfield in the first half and finished the game with 58 yards on the ground.
“Give them credit,” Newnan coach Mike McDonald said of Hughes. “They played really well on defense. We weren’t able to move the ball on the ground in the first half. It’s not our thing to sling it 50 times. They took away what we like to do.”
The win gives the Panthers (6-1, 2-0) the early edge in the Region 3-AAAAAA standings, and leaves the Cougars (5-2, 1-1) with an idea of what they need to improve.
“We’ve got to go back to work,” McDonald said, “and not repeat this performance. In the first half, we did not play well at all. I was proud of how they came back in the second half and fought. But it was a little too late at that point. You can’t get behind to a good football team and expect to win.”
Entering the game having lost its two previous meetings with the Cougars, including a 34-16 win for Newnan’s homecoming last year, the Panthers were strong enough this year to overcome its own faults with a scoring drive on its first possession.
Despite yielding 30 yards to the Cougars by offensive penalties, Hughes opened the scoring with a 46-yard field goal from Stephan Whitehead. Newnan turned the ball over three plays later at its 25.
Kenny Moxey threw to Keion Davis for a 12-yard touchdown to cap the short drive, and Davis added a short scoring run in the second half, as the visitors led 17-0 at halftime.
Whitehead added another 44-yard field goal late in the third quarter. Newnan was able to find the offensive success it wanted on its next possession.
A mix of inside runs and passes, including a 39-yard post from quarterback Bailey Bryant to Traon Moss moved the ball inside the Panthers 20 and led to a 1-yard plunge by Quinton Dix.
The Cougars defense held on three plays and forced a punt, which was partially blocked by Cameron Walker after a miscue on the snap delayed the kick. Tray Matthews covered the wobbling ball at the Hughes 13.
Bryant pitched to J.K. Britt on an option five plays later for a 1-yard touchdown.
After mixing short passes and mid-range runs with consistency for the first three quarters, the Panthers responded with its biggest play of the game.
Davis burst through the left side of the line for a 65-yard touchdown to push Hughes’ lead to 27-14 with 6:35 to play.
Newnan appeared to be moving the ball slowly again, but its fumbled the ball back to the visitors for the second time inside its 20. Each turnover came when the Cougars abandoned its primary shotgun look and took the snap under center.
“We work (under center) plenty,” McDonald said. “We just pulled out a little early.”
Kinan Humphrey entered the game at quarterback for the Panthers and led a scoring drive on five plays that ended the scoring with 2:31 left in the game.
After the score, the officials called an unsportsmanlike penalty against Newnan. Maurice White left the field, but McDonald said White was removed from the game but not ejected, and will not be forced to sit out the Cougars’ home game next week against Douglas County.
McDonald said no players were injured in the game.
“Our pride got hurt a little bit,” McDonald said.
SCORING SUMMARY – Langston Hughes 34, Newnan 14
Hughes 10 7 3 14 — 34
Newnan 0 0 0 14 — 14
LH — Stephan Whitehead 46 FG 3:57
LH — Keion Davis 12 pass from Kenny Moxey (Whitehead kick) 2:46
LH — Davis 2 run (Whitehead kick) 3:26
LH — Whitehead 44 FG 4:29
N — Quinton Dix 1 run (Tyler Mulvenna kick) 11:07
N — J.K. Britt 1 run (Mulvenna kick) 8:11
LH — Davis 65 run (Whitehead kick) 6:35
LH — Kinan Humphrey 5 run (Whitehead kick) 2:31