For a team with only seven points in four games, every yard counts, and for Newton football, it can’t squander any field position away.
That was exactly the case Thursday night as Newton, which once again struggled offensively, gave away 120 yards on 13 turnovers in its 10-0 loss to Langston Hughes at Sharp Stadium.
The first drive for the Rams was indicative of the way things would go as quarterback Kemani Pitman was sacked for an 11 yard loss, followed by a 16-yard run by James Hardeman. However, after that run, the Panthers picked up on Newton’s offensive strength and shut down the senior running back, who ran for over 100 yards against Valdosta six days earlier.
Then on defense, the Rams had a 5-yard penalty.
The rest of the game went much the same with Newton (0-4) able to gain just 56 yards of offense, including 34 rushing. The Rams ran for 35 yards on nine carries in the fourth quarter.
“We have no points, so we have nothing to do but continue to build,” Newton coach Cortez Allen said. “We saw some good things in spurts offensively we just want to continue to maintain.”
The Rams had just three yards of offense, including four yards on 2 of 8 passing by Pitman in the first half, and didn’t get a first down until late in the third quarter.
On third down Newton went to the air as Pitman found Aaron Pierce on a 15-yard pass for the first new set of downs in the game for the Rams with 3:07 left in the third quarter. The completion moved Newton out to the Rams’ 40; however, an illegal chop block penalty moved the Rams back to their own 25, and Newton eventually settled for another punt.
Another stalled drive by the Rams led to Langston Hughes (4-1) taking over on the Rams’ 41. The Panthers then used a 16-yard pass to set up a 41-yard field goal by Stephen Whitehead to break the shutout for a 3-0 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Rams couldn’t respond, despite their second first down of the game, a 14-yard run by Hardeman, on their next possession and gave the ball back to Langston Hughes on Newton’s 35-yard line.
From there, the Panthers didn’t have far to go, using an 11-yard run and then a 20-yard pass play to set up a 4-yard touchdown by Keon Davis with 8:48 to play for the final score.
The Rams gave up 185 yards of offense with 118 of those yards coming in the second half. Langston Hughes quarterback Kenny Moxey was under pressure throughout most of the night by Kingsley Ejike and Treyvon Richrdson, and Aaron Pierce came away with an interception, but the Panthers’ field position proved to be too much.
“The defense did an outstanding job,” Allen said. “We ended up giving up 10 points because of bad field position. We feel like defensively our kids are playing out there in a high level, but if you only give them 25 or 35 yards to go things happen.”
Newton begins Region 2-AAAAAA play against Alcovy at Sharp Stadium Friday.
“We’re still young,” Allen said. “It’s a process, we have to keep plugging away at it."