COVINGTON, Ga. — A sluggish start coupled with an array of mental mistakes in the first half were too much for the Newton Rams to overcome in a 20-13 loss against Houston County on Friday night inside Sharp Stadium.
The Rams entered Friday’s contest 3-0, ranked No. 9 in Class 7A. It was the first time Newton had entered the polls since 2010.
But, it would be the Bears to jump out to a 20-7 halftime lead.
With 1:58 left in the first quarter, Houston County quarterback Antwann Hill Jr. connected with receiver Khalil Quinn for a 4-yard touchdown pass to take an early 6-0 lead. The score was set up after the Rams surrendered three big plays — a 21-yard carry and then a 14-carry by running back Simeon Askew, followed by a 44-yard pass from Hill to receiver Michael Sherman.
Later in the second quarter, with 8:39 remaining, Newton’s defense surrendered another score, widening the Houston County lead to 13-0. This time it was Askew scoring on a 53-yard run.
On the ensuing Newton offensive drive, Rontravious Perry provided the Rams with a spark after he took a short pass from quarterback Jevarra Martin Jr. and slipped through the Bears defense for a 68-yard touchdown, trimming the Houston County lead to 13-7.
Newton’s defense stepped up on the Bears next offensive possession, forcing Houston County to go three-and-out. But on the Bears’ punt, the football hit the back of a Newton player and was recovered by the Bears’ kicking team at the Rams 41-yard line.
Nine plays later, Newton’s defense stopped the Bears short on third and goal from the 4-yard line to force a field goal try.
But another mental mistake would cost the Rams. Multiple Newton defenders were flagged for an offsides penalty, setting up a first and goal from the 2-yard line. Askew then took the handoff, leaped over the top and into the end zone to give the Bears a 20-7 halftime lead.
In the second half, Newton never gave up as the defense held the Bears offense scoreless for the rest of the game. But the offense still struggled to find its rhythm.
It wasn’t until about four minutes left in the third quarter when Martin broke loose for a 48-yard touchdown run to pull the Rams to within seven, 20-13.
After forcing the Bears to go three-and-out on the ensuing possession, the Newton offense was able to drive down to inside the Bears 10-yard line, but came up short on fourth and 2 with five minutes left in regulation.
From there, Houston County put the game on ice behind the legs of Askew and ran the clock out to upset the Rams 20-13.
With the loss, the Rams fall to 3-1. Next week, Newton opens Region 4-AAAAAAA play at home against Parkview in a rare Saturday night game.