GRAYSON, Ga. — When Newton Rams coach Terrance Banks looks back on this one, he won’t be able to fault the defense.
Although the final score looked like it was an offensive watershed for Grayson, Newton’s 34-0 loss Friday night to the state’s third ranked team wasn’t as bad as it looked from a defensive standpoint.
“It was a great defensive effort, for sure,” Banks said. “We’ve just gotta find a way to get back offensively to moving the ball, and that’s something we haven’t done in the last three weeks. It’s not indicative of what we’d been doing the first five games.”
Friday’s shutout loss was the second straight scoreless game Newton’s offense has produced. The Rams were blanked 42-0 by Archer back on October 7. It’s the first time since 2012 that Newton’s been held scoreless in consecutive games.
And Banks seemed to take some of the blame for Newton’s struggling offense.
“Coming in, we knew if we got into third and long situations, they’d blitz us a lot,” Banks said. “So I think in our offense, we probably made too many checks. We probably overchecked things this week when it should’ve been just one check and go going against their stack defense. We said we wanted to keep them out of the end zone, and we did for a long time. We just couldn’t get anything going on the other side of the ball.”
Newton did indeed make it tough sledding for the third-ranked Grayson Rams in the first half, thanks to a salty defense that kept Grayson well under 200 yards through the first two quarters.
Grayson found the scoreboard first when Will Van Pamelen kicked a 40 yard field goal to the Rams a 3-0 lead. But it could’ve been worse, as Kurt Taylor caught a screen pass from Chase Brice and darted up the field for what appeared to be a 43 yard touchdown. It was called back, however, on a holding penalty.
After Grayson stymied Newton on offense,Van Pamelen would cap another short drive with a field goal — this time, a 42-yarder.
Newton finally found some offense late in the second quarter when quarterback Myron Middlebrooks found Jeremiah Holloman on a long catch-and-run that featured Holloman juking several Grayson defenders before being pushed out of bounds. Eventually the drive would stall, but Newton was able to flip the field.
The defense stood tall for three consecutive drives, forcing Grayson three-and-outs. But after the last defensive stop, momentum flipped majority when Holloman muffed a punt, and Grayson recovered inside the 20 yard line with just over a minute left before halftime.
Jamyest Williams would find the end zone three plays later on a three-yard run just before half to push Grayson’s lead to 13-0.
Things loosened up for Grayson in the second half, after the defense put a stop to a short Newton drive. Kurt Taylor, a Michigan commit, squirted through the middle of Newton’s defense to score on a 25 yard scamper, giving Grayson a 20-0 lead at the 5:20 mark of the third quarter.
After a three-and-out for Newton’s offense, Chase Brice found Elijah Shaw wide open over the middle for a 32-yard scoring strike right before the third quarter buzzer, stretching Grayson’s advantage to 27-0.
Jaquavius Lane capped off the scoring for Grayson with an 11-yard touchdown run near the end of the fourth quarter. The loss was Newton’s second straight, and drops them to 4-3-1 with region contests at home against Shiloh on Thursday and on the road against Rockdale remaining.
Banks said he believes his team will be eager to get back to work, knowing they still have postseason aspirations in front of them.
“It’s a short week for us, but our goals are still the same,” he said. “We’re just trying to get to that land of 32 (teams) in the playoffs. Once we get there, everybody is 0-0. And if we see Grayson again — and we think we can see them again — it will probably be in the Final Four. Which means, if we see them again, we’ve done something as a team.”