Prep Football: Newnan catches Tigers by the tail
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
Newnan caught a Tiger by its tail and held on for dear life on Friday at Drake Stadium, escaping with a 21-13 victory against a much-improved Douglas County football team that gave the Cougars fits through the majority of four quarters.
Senior Quinton Dix’s 20-yard touchdown run, his second of the game, with 2:16 to play helped stave off a comeback effort from the Tigers, who pulled to within an extra-point after Douglas County sophomore DeVante Williams recovered a blocked Newnan punt in its own end zone with just under seven minutes remaining.
Punting three consecutive times to begin the second half, Newnan made its last possession count after Douglas County pulled to within 14-13 with 6:59 to play. The Cougars marched 82 yards on eight plays on a drive that ended with three consecutive runs by Dix, the latter on identical plays starting from the Tiger 36-yard line.
Despite being denied a touchdown on a holding penalty at the 20, Dix took the ensuing handoff the same direction and scored off right tackle to force an eight-point lead with 2:18 left in the game.
It wasn’t long enough for the Tigers to match. Despite impressive effort by senior running back Terrell Gibson and quarterback Ellis Richardson, Douglas County got as far as its own 36-yard line. That’s when Newnan senior linebacker Maurice White tipped the Richardson’s final pass attempt and it ricocheted into the arms of Cougar teammate Terrence Geter to seal Newnan’s victory.
Gibson ran for 83 yards on 12 carries and added five receptions for another 147 while acting as a catalyst for the Tigers offense.
The win pushed Newnan to 2-1 in the region and even with East Coweta for second place behind Hughes in the region standings. To the admission of Cougars head coach Mike McDonald, it wasn’t easy.
The Cougars stumbled in both the first and third quarters before using a 14-point surge on back-to-back scoring drives in the second period to finally find some momentum. Sophomore J.K. Britt carried the team much of the way, amassing all but five of his 113 yards rushing by halftime. Dix finished with 105 on 17 carries while the workhorse in the final two quarters.
The senior’s five-yard touchdown with 9:08 left in the first half opened the scoring while capping a 8-play, 61-yard drive highlighted by 20 and 28 yard gains by Britt on passing and running plays.
Newnan’s early lead blossomed to 14-0 on a 22-yard touchdown catch by Traon Moss from quarterback Bailey Bryant with 1:32 left before halftime. Again, Britt and Dix amassed most of the yardage on a 13-play drive that again went 61 yards to paydirt.
Douglas County, coming off a region win over Westlake, fell to 2-6 overall and 1-2 in region play heading into next Friday’s home game against East Coweta.
“We found a way to win. It wasn’t pretty. That’s what I told the kids, and it wasn’t easy,” McDonald said. “But it was a win.”
Outside of a dominating second period where Newnan established momentum with a pair of scores to take a 14-0 lead, it was another exhausting Region 3-AAAAAA contest for the Cougars on a night where mistakes by both teams produced an awkward flow.
Maybe still feeling some of the ill-effects of a previous week’s loss to Langston Hughes, Newnan played a lethargic opening 12 minutes before coming alive. The Cougars maintained possession for all but four plays of the second quarter to take a 14-0 halftime lead.
But Douglas County, playing its seventh game under first-year head coach Jason Respert, needed just four offensive snaps coming out of the break to close to within a touchdown.
Gibson’s 52-yard catch and run on a short throw trimmed the Newnan lead to 14-7 just 1:12 into the second half.
Douglas County continued that momentum through its fourth-quarter punt block while catching Newnan’s Tyler Mulvenna trying to take a couple extra steps on a sideline-style attempt to avoid a long return. But when the senior broke toward the Cougar sideline outside Newnan’s containment around his 15-yard line, the delay was long enough for Tiger special teams players to arrive.
“It’s something we’ve done before and we had it set up perfectly. He’s never taken any extra steps like that,” McDonald said. “He just tried to do too much.”
Newnan looked to have things in control following a dominating second quarter, scoring on back-to-back possessions after the defense staved off a 15-play drive by the Tigers that stalled at the Newnan 15-yard line.
Douglas County chewed up 5:35 of the first-period clock, but miscues included a dropped pass by a receiver alone near the Cougar end zone and a penalty that negated 41-yard field goal by junior kicker Juan Serna eventually led the Tigers to turn the ball over on downs.
Newnan’s defense bowed up from there to force three consecutive punts to close the first half without allowing a first down until halftime.
SCORING SUMMARY – Newnan 21, Douglas County 13
Douglas County 0 0 7 6 — 13
Newnan 0 14 0 7 — 21
N — Quinton Dix 5 run (Tyler Mulvenna kick), 9:08
N — Traon Moss 22-yard pass from Bailey Bryant (Mulvenna kick), 1:32
DC — Terrell Gibson 57-yard pass from Ellis Richarson (Juan Serna kick), 10:48
DC — Devante Williams fumble recovery in end zone (kick failed), 6:59
N — Dix 20 run (Mulvenna kick), 2:18