The Rockdale County Bulldogs claimed their first win over rival Newton High in over a decade Friday night at Reid Stadium, biting the Rams 28-21 in overtime for their second region victory of the year and their first win in the County Line Classic.
Down 21-14 late in the third quarter, the Bulldogs scored a pair of unanswered touchdowns, including the 15-yard game winner from quarterback Tajee Steele to wideout Terrell McLaughlin in the extra period.
The win moves Rockdale to 5-3 on the year, while the Rams drop their first region contest of the season, falling to 3-4 overall and 2-1 in region play.
"Rockdale out played us and we lost the game," Newton head coach Terrance Banks said. "That's all I have to say."
Rockdale coach Venson Elder said the win was a defining one for his program.
"It's a great win for this school," Elder said. "It was a hell of a job by Newton and it came down to the last play of the game. I'm glad we came out on top this time."
The Bulldogs were without starting quarterback Zuri Minnifield, but Rockdale was still in striking distance of the Rams heading into the fourth quarter. Facing a 21-14 deficit, the Bulldogs' offense pounded the Rams with their run game, kicking off a 59-yard scoring drive with a 39-yard run from running back Keijine Thomas.
Three plays later Steele, who finished 8-of-16 passing for 138 yards with two touchdown and two interceptions in place of Minnifield, found Akwesi Mintah for a 21-yard touchdown pass through the air, tying the contest on a Devin Dawkins' extra-point. Mintah leapt over a pair of Newton defenders bracketing him in the end zone for the game-tying leap.
Rockdale held the Rams to a punt on Newton's final offensive possession of the game, forcing overtime.
In overtime, the Bulldogs had first possession, starting from their own 15-yard time. Rockdale rushed twice for no gain, but on the Bulldogs' third play from scrimmage, Steele connected with McLaughlin for his only catch of the game.
Rockdale's defense halted Newton on a 4th-and-1 rush on the six yard line on the Rams' overtime possession, sealing the victory.
"Our offense did a great job when they needed to," Elder said. "We did some things that we haven't done all year, and the kids stepped up and made it happen."
Rockdale opened the game with the contest's first score with 2:36 left in the first period, marching 56 yards on a scoring drive that was capped off by a Jaylen Davis 1-yard touchdown run.
Newton answered with back-to-back touchdown to take a 7-point leading, scoring on a pair of passes from quarterback Romario Johnson. Johnson hit DeAndre Huff for his first score of the game on an 18-yard pass before finding wideout Sam Johnson for another 19-yard score.
The Bulldogs answered with a 54-yard touchdown run from T.J. Warren, tying the contest at 14-14 heading into halftime.
Newton scored the second half's first touchdown with 1:40 left in the third quarter, as Romario Johnson found Huff again in the end zone, this time on a 36-yard touchdown pass through the air after Rockdale was called for a late hit in Newton territory.
Romario Johnson was named the County Line Classic MVP for Newton, throwing for 200 yards and three touchdowns through the air on 13-of-24 passing, while Kentavious Preston earned the honor for the Bulldogs.
Romario Johnson also finished with 106 yards rushing on 20 carries, but the rest of the Rams' rushing unit finished with just 22 yards on 12 carries.
Newton returns to action next Friday against Lovejoy at Sharp Stadium for homecoming.