High School Football
Portress, Newnan defense dig in for big win over Douglas County
With its young offense struggling to churn out touchdowns, Newnan did the next best thing on Friday.
It put its trust in the hands of its defensive teammates.
Starting senior linebacker-turnedfullback Tonarius Portress rumbled for touchdowns of 12 and 67 yards, looking much like the son of a former Cougar running back, and his defensive teammates feasted on six Douglas County turnovers - a pair of which were returned for scores - as Newnan used a third-quarter burst to roll past the Tigers 28-7 at Jimmy Johnson Stadium.
Senior lineman Mark Harris returned one of four Cougar interception for a thirdquarter score and junior cornerback Frankey Williams added a touchdown return of his own midway through the fourth while picking off two Douglas County passes in the victory.
Newnan senior Brandon Tennie also added two fumble recoveries in the second half that kept Douglas County off the scoreboard after the Tigers quickly tied the game at 7-7 with 7:40 left in the third quarter.
The win all but sealed a state-playoff berth for the Cougars (5-3, 2-1), who now have wins against a pair of 0-3 teams in Region 3-AAAAAA, including Douglas County.
The Tigers, at 2-6 and winless in the region, need a victory at East Coweta next Friday at Garland Shoemake Stadium to have any chance at the postseason by way of a tiebreaker, which would have to include an Indians' win over Newnan to close the regular season.
Newnan helped put Douglas County on the brink of elimination with a 21-point outburst in the second half after stumbling early in the third while taking a slim 7-0 lead to the break after teams ended the first quarter scoreless.
Five early penalties by the Cougars - including a personal foul call on third down - allowed the Tigers to keep its lone touchdown drive alive. Two snaps later, Shayne Carey scored on a five-yard run to tie the game with 7:40 left in the period.
Already Newnan's leading tackler for the second consecutive season, Portress, who had been used as a blocker in short-yardage situations earlier this year, made the most of an opportunity to carry the ball while also following in the footsteps of his father, Tony.
After putting Newnan ahead with a bulldozing 12-yard run early in the second quarter, the 5-11, 226pound senior took the first snap from scrimmage following Douglas County's touchdown and Newnan's fifth penalty of the third quarter on the ensuing kickoff and rumbled 67 yards past Tigers defenders to put the Cougars back ahead for good 14-7.
The touchdown run only seemed to ignite Newnan's defense, which tacked on a pair of scores directly off Douglas County turnovers. The Tigers' next offensive snap following Portress' second touchdown saw Tigers sophomore quarterback Malik Oliver toss an errant ball that found the hands of Cougar senior defensive lineman Mark Harris, who raced in the other direction for a 30-yard score to put Newnan ahead further, 21-7, with 6:06 left in the quarter.
Douglas County used three quarterbacks in the game, including starter Jared Askew, without having much scoring success despite moving the ball deep into opposing territory at times.
Newnan's Williams capped off the win in the final period after both teams traded fumble recoveries. After making an acrobatic play for his first interception, Williams stepped in front of another Tigers pass just as Douglas County took possession following a missed 32-yard Newnan field-goal attempt and raced the other way 30 yards for a touchdown to put the Cougars ahead 28-7 with 4:23 remaining.
Turnovers haunted Douglas County from the early moments of the second quarter. The Tigers' best offensive march, a 14-yard drive from its own 34 down inside Newnan's 17, ended with Cougar junior J.K. Britt picking off a pass. Moments earlier, Douglas County had a touchdown run called back by a penalty after Askew scrambled away from defenders after back-peddling on a run that covered 30 yards. A penalty by the Tigers on their opening drive of the game down to the Newnan 12-yard line also may have been costly. An illegal procedure call pushed a field-goal attempt back before it was blocked at the line by a rush that included Portress.
Cougars 28, Tigers 7
Newnan 0 7 14 7- 28 Douglas Co. 0 0 7 0- 7
N - Tonarius Portress 12 run (Conner Cox kick) 3rd Quarter DC - Shayne Carey 5 run (kick good) N - Portress 67 run (Cox kick) N - Mark Harris interception return (Cox kick) 4th Quarter N - Frankie Williams interception return (Cox kick)