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Indians end Rams' season
The Newton defense forces a fumble in the Rams' 36-21 loss at home to McEachern Friday night in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state playoff. - photo by Anthony Banks

For the second year in a row, the Newton Rams hosted a home playoff game.

For the second year in a row, the same result followed.

Newton lost its first-round home playoff contest 36-21 Friday night at Sharp Stadium to visiting McEachern, bowing out of the opening round for the third time in the last five seasons.

It just seemed to be a bad night for the Rams, as injuries and four interceptions allowed the Indians to advance to the second round to take on Hughes.

The Rams’ defense held McEachern’s explosive running game to just over 100 yards, but McEachern cut through Newton’s staunch defensive unit with a pair of touchdowns through the air from Indians quarterback Bailey Hockman.

“They beat us doing something they don’t do,” Newton coach Terrance Banks said. “(There’s) nothing you can do about it.”

Newton’s bad luck started on its first drive.

McEachern forced a fumble deep in Newton territory that rolled into the end zone. Newton kicked the ball out of the end zone, and the Indians scored a safety off the miscue, taking an early 2-0 lead.

McEachern’s offense got rolling on its third possession. After starting the drive with the ball in their own territory, the Indians unleashed running back Alizee Chubbs for a 16-yard-gain, and Hockman connected with wideout Malik Williams for a 20-yard strike.

Andrew Heyward finished the drive for McEachern with a wildcat run for 15 yards and a touchdown.

Newton turnovers contributed to McEachern’s next score. Rams quarterback Romario Johnson threw an interception deep in NHS territory in the closing moments of the first quarter. Chubbs punched the ball into the end zone on a 4-yard run after the turnover, extending the Indians' lead to 15-0 at the start of the second quarter.

The Rams responded immediately after the Indians touchdown, but the score came at a price.

Johnson was injured on the Rams’ ensuing drive. After the injury to the NHS starting quarterback, Rams wideout Davonta Jones took over the quarterback duties.

Jones picked up 52 yards rushing on the drive, with a thunderous 32-yard run into the red zone. Jones connected with DeAndre Huff for a 6-yard touchdown, cutting the Indians’ advantage to 15-7.

All the momentum Newton gained after Huff’s score came to a complete stop, however, after McEachern ended the half with two late touchdowns.

After a punt return to the Rams’ 30-yard line, Hockman hit Andrew Heyward for a 30-yard touchdown. Hockman added to the Indians’ lead with his second touchdown of the contest on McEachern’s next drive, connecting with Artise Clark for a 4-yard touchdown pass.

Hockman’s two touchdowns pushed the Indians ahead 29-7 at halftime.

Newton made the game interesting after the break, as Huff returned the opening kickoff of the second half 95-yards for a touchdown.

Newton tried to ride that momentum, but its offense just couldn’t get moving.

McEachern put the game away in the middle of the fourth quarter. MHS drove the ball into the red zone.Newton’s defense forced a field goal, but the Rams were flagged for a personal foul on the play, giving McEachern another chance to cross the goal line.

Ryan Sherman scored on a 4-yard touchdown run on the ensuing play, clinching the contest for the Indians.
Newton added a late touchdown in the final minute of the game, as backup quarterback Bubba Hickman hit Jones for a 3-yard touchdown.