What a difference a year makes. After dropping a tough loss to Alcovy to open the 2008 season, Newton responded Saturday night as they picked up their first win of the season with a 22-15 victory over McIntosh at Sharp Stadium.
After Alcovy and Eastside both earned victories to start the season, Newton made sure each team in the county was in the win column with a solid team rushing effort and timely defensive plays.
"There is a different feeling in our camp right now," head coach Nick Collins said. "It's different when you go out hoping to win than when you go out expecting to win."
Akeem Hunt had 108 yards including 82 of them on a key touchdown run that put the Rams up two scores late in the game.
The Rams, led by quarterback Demetrius McCray and a slew of nimble running backs, scored two first-half touchdowns and led 15-0 at halftime.
"It's a different feeling when you're in a game rather than out of it by halftime," Collins said.
The Chiefs cut Newton's lead to 15-6 after Cam Porter capped off a 55-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run. The Chiefs went for and converted the 2-point conversion but elected to settle for the extra point after a penalty negated the conversion and backed them up 10 yards.
Up 15-7 heading into the fourth quarter, the Rams wasted little time responding as Akeem Hunt took second play of the ensuing drive 82 yards to pay dirt to extend Newton's lead 22-7.
McIntosh refused to go quietly. The Chiefs came right back on their next possession and scored again, this time on a 14-yard pass from Porter to Bradley Larson. After a circus catch secured the 2-point conversion, McIntosh cut Newton's lead to 22-15 with 6:59 to play.
After a Ram three-and-out, McIntosh got the ball back near midfield with plenty of time left for a scoring drive. Consecutive plays of 10 and 20 yards gave the Chiefs the ball near the Ram 30-yard line. But Deandre Rashada picked off an errant pass over the middle to get Newton ball back and seal the win.
With one win under its belt, Newton will go back to work this week to prepare for a big game against Eastside, which will be looking to complete the county sweep Friday at Sharp Stadium. In the meantime, Collins is pleased with his team's performance and believes Ram football is on the mend.
"To get a win this early, especially going into the Eastside game, it's huge," Collins said. "Last year was dreadful. The difference is Dr. Sams and athletic director Tracy Curtis came in allowed me to hire the guys I needed to hire. The coaches are doing a great job and the kids are having fun, we're all relaxed and I'm having fun."