Newnan advances to second round, but loses QB Bryant
By DOUG GORMAN
The good is the Newnan Cougars rolled to a 38-0 victory over Alcovy in the first round of the playoffs Friday night at Drake Stadium.
The victory came with a price as starting quarterback Bailey Bryant left the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury and never returned.
"Injuries are part of the game," head coach Mike McDonald said. "I thought we did a good job of keeping our focus and doing what we had to win."
Bryant, who had started all 11 games for the Cougars, never returned as the training staff wrapped ice around his left shoulder leaving his status up in the air for their second-round contest next week.
The injury ended a great night for Bryant who started out on fire, completing 9 of 10 pass for 117 yards and a touchdown, including five completions in a row. Earlier in the game, center Miles Moran left with a knee injury.
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Now Newnan might have to get ready to play their second game with Bryant watching from the sidelines.
At last they will be home the day after Thanksgiving when they host Colquitt County. The Packers earned a second straight trip back to this part of the state after holding off McEachern 30-28 Friday night.
"We really don't care who we play," McDonald said. "At this point everybody is good."
With the offense hurting, Newnan turned to its defense for some key plays down the stretch forcing two turnovers to prevent possible Alcovy drives with the Tigers still within striking distance.
Cornerback Rodney Tennie helped the Cougars seize the momentum when he returned an interception 30 yards for a score to give Newan a 24-0 lead midway through the third quarter. Tennie had another interception in the first half. The senior also had two interceptions in the Cougars' win against East Coweta to secure home field advantage in Friday night's playoff opener.
"Coaches were telling us right before that, they we needed to step up," he said. "When I got the pick, I saw the end zone the whole way."
Even with Bailey out of the game, the Cougars offense continued to click. Quarterback Diamond Jones connected on three of four passes late in the game. His biggest of the night was on a third down when he connected with Traon Moss, who tight-roped the sidelines to help move the first-down stick.
That set the stage for Kevlin Khayyam to score the first of his two touchdowns. Khayyam's first trip to the end zone came on a 2-yard sprint late in the third quarter. The senior running back also found the end zone on a 9-yard run late in the fourth quarter for the final score of the game.
"Diamond did a really good job out there," McDonald said. "He completed three or four really nice passes at the end of the game."
Newnan drew first blood, building 9-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game.
The Tigers helped out Newnan giving up a safety when the punter Rysen Richardson stepped out of the back of the end zone after the Cougars' defense pinned them deep when quarterback Cornell White was whistled for intentional grounding.
Newnan marched 47 yards on its first series of the game capped by Dix's 1-yard run. The Cougars took nearly five minutes to find the end zone using a 10-play scoring drive. Newnan converted a third down-and-10 during the drive when Bryant connected with Tray Matthews on a 10-yard pass. Two plays before scoring on his short touchdown run, Dix moved the chains with a short run on third down.
Bailey and Matthews hooked up late in the second quarter on an even bigger play. With 1:14 left in before the half, and facing a 3rd- and-5, Bryant rolled to his left, faked the handoff and found the senior wide receiver open on a 39-yard touchdown pass. The scoring dive came right after Alcovy Rysen Richardson's 44-yard field goal was blocked killing the Tigers' best scoring chance of the first half.
Newnan nearly had one more chance to score right before the end of the first half after Rodney Tennie intercepted another pass attempt by White.
White, who was the fourth quarterback used by Alcovy this year, was the first half-catalyst for the Tigers. Lining up as the the Tigers' main runner, White rushed for 77 yards on 13 carries in the first half.
Despite the loss, Alcovy head coach Kirk Hoffman wouldn't allow his team to hang its head.
"I am really proud of this team," he said. "We have made the playoffs two years in a row, and that is huge for this team. This was a great environment to play in, and we can only get better from here."
Newnan held the Tigers two just two first downs in the first half, but White picked up both with runs of 18 and 8 yards.
Until Bryant left the game, the pass was the Cougars most effective weapon as he threw the ball to five different receivers. Running back J.K. Britt was a favorite target for Bailey as he hit the sophomore running back out of the backfield four times.
SCORING SUMMARY – Newnan 38, Alcovy 0
Alcovy 0 0 0 0 – 0
Newnan 9 8 14 7 – 38
N – Safety, Alcovy punter steps out of back of end zone, 10:30
N – Quinton Dix 1 run (Tyler Mulvenna kick) 5:28
N – Bailey Bryant 39 pass to Tray Matthews (Bailey pass to Traon Moss), 1:14
N – Rodney Tennie 30 interception (Mulvenna kick), 5:58
N – Kelvin Khayyam 2 run (Mulvenna kick), 2:04
N – Khayyam 9 run (Mulvenna kick), 10:14