Tigers coast past YellowjacketsBy DEMETRIUS THOMPSON,
It wasn’t the cleanest game, but the Newton Tigers finally earned their first district win on Friday against cross-county rival Union in a 38-16 victory at Morgan Field.
The two teams combined for 23 penalties and had to be separated during a scrum in the third quarter. But Newton’s experience and talent was too much for the Yellowjackets as senior receiver Javarious Moore caught three passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns and Alex Hamilton passed for 326 yards and five scores in his first start as the Tigers’ signal caller this season.
And while Newton head coach Ryan Smith was glad to end the Tigers’ three-game losing streak, he said his team still has a few steps left to ensure a playoff spot in the competitive 2A-Region 4 postseason race.
“We needed that, but we’re still cleaning some things up,” Smith said. “There’s still a couple of things that we’re still not being very disciplined on. We had three touchdowns called back. It’s just a lack of discipline.”
After getting good field position on the opening kickoff, it didn’t take long for the Tigers’ passing game to get untracked as Hamilton scrambled and found Moore for a 50-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline for Newton’s first score only 42 seconds into the game.
Kamren Johnson added the two point conversion run.
Later in the first quarter, the Yellowjackets stopped the Tigers when Moore couldn’t haul in a catch in the end zone against double coverage on fourth down. However, the Union offense didn’t gain any yards on their ensuing drive.
Early in the second quarter, Hamilton found Zachary Johnson for an 8-yard strike that would begin a 22-point quarter for Newton. After Serquavious Irby’s 86-yard touchdown run was called back because of a holding call, Moore scored on a 70-yard strike from Hamilton but the two-point conversion failed.
With 2:42 remaining in the first half, Zachary Johnson caught a short pass and raced 35 yards to the end zone for his second score, and Hamilton’s 2-pt conversion run put Newton up 30-0 at the half.
Early in the third quarter, after Union quarterback Colby Ferguson’s run on third down, players from both teams got into a scuffle after the whistle. After the dust settled, the Tigers were hit with multiple penalties that took Union down to the Newton 7. Two plays later Ferguson plunged in from 6 yards out for the Yellowjackets’ first score and added the two-point conversion run.
Friday’s game was the first where Union had scored two touchdowns since their Sept. 1 home win over Noxapater.
“Tonight was the best we’ve played in a long time and it’s the hardest we’ve played,” said Union coach Brad Breland. “I was proud of our effort. They played hard.”
The Tigers stretched the lead back to 30 points with 3:22 left in the third when Zackariah Johnson scored on a 30-yard run and Sirvares Snow added the two-point conversion run.
Early in the fourth, the Yellowjackets went on their longest drive of the night. Michael MacDonald hauled in a 22-yard touchdown pass from Lane Hanna on fourth down, and Ferguson added the two-point conversion.
Hanna was only brought in on obvious passing downs and was one of several Yellowjackets who weren’t 100 percent or couldn’t suit up on Friday. As a result, the Tigers outgained the ‘Jackets 377 to 127.
“We’ve lost so many skill people that teams can just load up the box on us and we can’t block them all,” Breland said. We can’t spread anybody out because we’ve just lost so many guys. We finished the game with two eighth graders on defense and they played really well.”
Union finished regional play winless for the first time in several seasons and will finish the season in a no-region game at Enterprise on Thursday.
Newton will make the short trip on Hwy. 80 to take on Lake, who rose to second place in 2A-Region 4 after their win over No. 1 Philadelphia on Friday.