Newnan senior cornerback comes up big in victory
by Doug Gorman
Newnan senior Frankie Williams may not be the biggest man on the football field, but the 5-9, 160-pound cornerback makes gigantic things happen for the Cougars.
He turned in one of the most electrifying plays of his career on Friday when he stepped in front of a screen pass by Carrollton quarterback Demarcus Mitchell and sprinted 48 yards for the eventual game-winning score with 2:43 left to give the Cougars a season-opening 28-22 win on the road.
It was the exclamation point on tremendous second-half comeback, be it in a hostile environment.
There was plenty of emotion on the Trojans’ sidelines after the death of student this week. Carrollton was also hungry to head coach Ed Dudley his first win since taking over the program.
The Trojans jumped ahead 10-0 and led until the fourth quarter when Bailey Bryant scored on 1-yard quarterback keeper to give Newnan its first lead of the game at 22-16.
The go-ahead drive for the Cougars consisted of 17 plays and swung momentum in Newnan’s favor for good.
The next seven minutes kept an overflow crowd at Grisham Stadium glued to their seats.
Carrollton tied the game at 22-22 thanks to a 2-yard touchdown run by Conrad Jackson and missed extra point with four minutes remaining.
“We knew we were going to get them at the best,” Newnan head coach Mike McDonald said. “I just keep telling our guys if we could weather the storm, we will be fine.”
The Trojans were then driving for the possible game winner on their second to last series when Williams stepped in and saved the day with the spectacular interception.
“It felt great,” Williams said. “I knew we needed a big play to bring the game home. I saw the read, and I just broke through and just ran with all I had to the end zone.”
Despite being slightly undersized, Williams is starting to attract college attention.
When fellow senior defensive back J.K. Britt, who has committed to North Carolina, was being recruited in the spring, college coaches often commented to McDonald about what Williams was doing on the football field.
Williams and Britt both led Newnan with four interceptions last season, with Williams returning a pick for a score in a win over Douglas County.
A blocked extra point after Williams’ most recent interception return only gave the Cougars a six-point lead. Newnan’s defense, however, was able to keep the Trojans out of the end zone and the ball went over on downs, allowing them to run out the clock.
McDonald isn’t surprised Williams was the one who came up big for the Cougars.
“He knows how to play football and he knows his position,” McDonald said. “He made a huge play and I knew when he broke on the ball there was no way they were going to stop.”
Williams said the dramatic victory to the start the year gives the Cougars plenty of momentum for the rest of the season.
“It’s huge,” he said. “We have all been working hard and this can carry us the rest of the year. It’s a good win to start the season.”
McDonald is now 5-1 in season-opening games at Newnan, but this could be the biggest win of them all.
Carrollton is coming off a 13-2 season after losing to Griffin in the Class AAAA state finals last year at the Georgia Dome. They’ve been equally tough at home, having dropped just four home losses over the past five seasons. It’s the first time the Trojans have opened at 0-2 since 1977 when legendary coach Charlie Grisham led the program.
The Cougars won Friday’s clash with the Trojans mixing the run with the pass.
Bryant ran the offense out of both the shotgun and under center, completing 14 of 26 passes for 144 yards. He also threw a 17-yard touchdown to Randell Arnold the Cougars first score of the game, turning a 10-0 deficit late in the first half into a three-point deficit.
The drive included a fourth-down conversion from Bryant to Arnold.
Newnan takes the momentum into this week’s game against Marietta at Drake Stadium.