Packers foil Newnan's bid for victory in closing minutes
By DOUG GORMAN
It’s not over until its over.
The Newnan Cougars learned that lesson the hard Friday night in the second round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs, falling to Colquitt County 26-23 in a shootout a Drake Stadium.
“We have come a long way since spring practice,” said an emotional Newnan head coach Mike McDonald. “The way the kids came in and worked every day, and the way the coaches worked, I couldn’t ask for more.”
With Newnan leading 23-18 late in the fourth quarter, the Cougars appeared ready to ice the game away after Tray Matthews intercepted a pass and returned it into Packer territory.
The drive didn’t last long as the Cougars gave the ball back on a fumble in Packer territory with 3:43 left in the game.
From there, the Packers went to work on a 9-play, 69-yard drive that ended when John Boatwright rolled into the end zone untouched on a 19-yard scamper with 1:38 left in the game.
The Packers kept the drive alive on one of the most impressive plays of the night.
Facing 4th-and-10 from its own 42, Packer quarterback Cole Segraves connected with Todd Boyd on a 42-yard pass over the middle to not only keep the Packers in possession of the football, but also move them deep into Cougar territory.
Colquitt finished 4 of 4 on fourth-down attempts, but none bigger than the last one.
Two plays later, Boatwright was in the end zone with the game-winning touchdown to move the Packers out front 24-23. The Packers added some insurance when Segraves hit a wide open Boyd on the 2-point conversion to give them their final margin of victory.
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Colquitt was effective both running and passing the football. Segraves completed 21 of 33 passes for 252 yards, but nine different players touched the football for the Packers.
Newnan didn’t quit on its last drive. Taking advantage of two costly personal foul penalties by Colquitt, the Cougars appeared headed for at least the tying field goal attempt before Newnan quarterback Bailey Bryant was intercepted by O’shay Williams with under a minute left.
Williams finished the game with two interceptions to pace the Packers’ win.
The Cougars entered the week preparing to play without Bryant who injured his shoulder on the first series of the third quarter in last week’s victory.
Newnan started out the game with some Wildcat packages and Diamond Jones under center. Bryant finally entered Friday’s games in the middle of the Cougars’ third series and added an instant spark.
Despite being less than 100 percent, Bryant was 16 of 27 for 103 yards and two touchdowns.
“They knew he had a hurt shoulder, and we knew they were going to hit him and knock him – and they certainly did – but he did a good job of staying in there,” McDonald said.
Colquitt opened the game with two quick scoring drives, but both extra points failed giving the Packers a 12-0 lead.
The Packers drove 81 yards in 10 plays in less than two minutes to start the game. Colquitt kept the first drive alive with a fourth down conversion. Tyree Lee had the longest run of the night for the Packers with a 16-yard run down to the Cougars’ seven. One play later, Sihiem King scored the first touchdown of the game with a 7-yard run.
After the Packer defense held the Cougars to negative 2-yards rushing on Newnan’s first series of the game, Colquitt took advantage of good field positon, beginning at the Newnan 35. Nine plays later, Segraves was in the end zone on a 7-yard run.
Newan seized the momentum midway through the second quarter when Rodney Tennie intercepted a pass and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown. It was Tennie’s fifth interception in three games and the second returned for a touchdown.
“He had a tremendous senior year,” McDonald said.”That interception gave us a tremendous lift.”
Newnan took the lead on its next offensive series after it marched 84 yards in six plays. Bryant capped the drive with a pass to J.K. Britt for the touchdown.
Earlier in the drive, he threw a short pass to Britt on third down that came up inches short, but the Cougars converted the fourth-down attempt when Quinton Dix converted on a 1-yard run.
Bryant’s go-ahead touchdown pass to Britt left just 36 seconds on the clock before halftime, but the Packers marched down the field after Segraves hit Boyd on a 24-yard pass. Later in the drive, Segraves also hit King out the backfield on a 15-yard pass.
The Packers went to the locker room with a 15-14 lead after place kicker Will Banister connected on 31-yard kick as time expired.
Newnan took advantage of a missed field goal by Colquitt County, putting together one of its best drives of the game to take a 17-15 lead in the third quarter after Mulvenna capped the drive with a 36-yard kick.Williams interception had set the Packers up at the Newnan 35, but a missed field goal kept points off the board. Tyler Mulvenna responded on his opportunity to give the Cougars a two-point lead with 2:42 left in the third quarter.
Colquitt County did finally get into the kicking act when Will Bannister pushed the Packers out front 18-17 with his 32-yard field goal just eight seconds into the fourth quarter.
The Cougars took their last lead of the game with 7:40 left in the contest when Bryant hit Traon Moss in the corner of the end zone.
Moss’s touchdown came on a third and 8 call by Bryant who threaded the needle on the pass for the Cougars’ final score.
SCORING SUMMARY – Colquitt County 26, Newnan 23
Colquitt County 12 3 0 11 – 26
Newnan 0 14 3 6 – 23
CC – Shielm King 7 run (kick blocked), 10:09
CC – Cole Segraves 4 run (kick failed), 5:09
N – Rodney Tennie 28 interception return (Tyler Mulvenna kick), 7:29
N – Bailey Bryant 4 pass to J.K.Britt (Mulvenna kick), 0:36
CC – Will Bannister 31 field goal, 0:00
N – Mulvenna 36 field goal, 2:42
CC – Bannister 32 field goal, 11:52
N – Bryant 11 pass to Traon Moss (2-point failed), 7:40
CC – John Boatwright 19 run (Segraves pass to Todd Boyd), 1:38