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Posted: August 20, 2011 2:05 p.m.

Runnin' roughshod

Rams dominant in 49-7 win over Rockdale

Friday night's matchup between Rockdale and Newton was just a preseason tuneup, which is fortunate for the morale of the Bulldogs.

Newton welcomed its opponents from the next county over and soundly defeated them 49-7 at Sharp Stadium on Friday night.

The Rams blocked three punts, scoring touchdowns off two of them, and also picked up a safety as they had the Bulldogs on their heels all night.

"I wasn't discouraged," Rockdale coach Michael Etheridge said.

Rockdale's defense forced the Rams to punt on the first drive of the game, and the Bulldogs returned the favor immediately after on their first offensive drive.

That punt was one of the few that went off well for the Bulldogs.

Rockdale's second punt was blocked by Newton's Devonte Hunt, giving the Rams the ball on the Rockdale 27-yard line.

Rockdale forced Newton to a third-and-long but was called for a personal foul giving the Rams new life with a first down. Newton then set itself up for a field goal that Zach Sullivan knocked in from 25 yards for a 3-0 lead with 11:49 left in the second quarter.

A little more than five minutes later, Rockdale punted again, this time from its own 4-yard line with the kick coming from the end zone. Newton got to the punter and blocked the kick with Aaron Pierce falling on it in the end zone for a 10-0 lead.

"We tried some things that we wanted to look at kicking-wise that obviously we can't," Etheridge said.

Rockdale's special teams got plenty of work early as the Bulldogs ushered out a new offensive line against a much more experienced defensive line for Newton.

"I was extremely proud of our defensive line," Newton coach Cortez Allen said. "We've known since spring that they would be our strength with three returning starters."

Rockdale's offensive line featured a lot of sophomores, who in the first half provided holes for -2 yards rushing on 15 carries. However, as the game went on the Bulldogs' young group showed improvement, providing throwing time for quarterback Zacharie Powell, who completed five of eight passes for 59 yards. Junior receiver Anthony Maul had 47 of those yards.

However, the offense couldn't get going long enough to threaten Newton, which scored one more time in the first half, this time coming on the defensive side of the ball.

Senior defensive end Damon Gresham picked up a fumble by Powell, who was hit in the backfield, and ran it back 30 yards to put Newton on top 17-0.

The Rams' defense would put Newton on the scoreboard one more time, early in the fourth quarter as Tyrique Brown tackled Powell in the end zone for a safety.

On the ensuing drive for Newton, Darius Dean ran in an 11-yard touchdown for a 26-0 advantage with 8:50 left in the third quarter.

"I was extremely proud of our effort," Allen said. "We had a fast tempo and did a good job on defense."

After a 22-yard Newton touchdown pass from Gmatreian Brown to Deshawn McKenzie, Rockdale finally got in the end zone in the fourth quarter.

Fifty nine seconds in, sophomore Shakeem Saunders ran it in from 13 yards; both teams then brought in their freshmen.

"I think if we eliminated some of the problems, they probably would have beaten us, but it would have been more like 10-3, in that range," Etheridge said. "We're just young.

"We have to grow up and we will."

The Rams open the season Friday on the road at Shiloh. Their first home game is Sept. 2 versus rival Eastside. The Rams have defeated the Eagles in each of the past two games.

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