Postgame with Newton QB LT Stowers
COVINGTON, Ga. — LT Stowers knew what the rest of us didn’t — kind of.
Coming into Friday’s game against Arabia Mountain, Stowers knew that Newton head coach Terrance Banks was going to give him first crack at running the Rams’ offense. What he didn’t know was how much time he would get behind the controls.
Stowers wound up putting together an impressive performance, finishing 17 of 24 passing with 271 yards and four touchdowns while playing all but the final few minutes of Newton’s 41-21 thrashing of Arabia Mountain Friday night.
“To be honest, I didn’t know I was gonna start the whole, entire game,” Stowers said. “I thought was just going to be me starting off and then we were gonna do the rotation. So it felt good to know that I was going to be able to start the whole entire game.”
Banks expressed his pleasure in both Stowers and junior Neal Howard as the two battled for the starting spot since Stowers transferred in from Mississippi as spring football was getting started.
“I’m proud of both my quarterbacks,” Banks said. “They’re both serious competitors. Neal Howard pushes LT in practice every day. LT knows he has to perform, because if not, Neal is ready to go in. I’m very proud of both of those young men and what they give to this program.”
Banks had just as much to be proud of regarding the way the rest of his team played in its first game since falling 27-20 to Eastside two weeks ago.
Newton played like a team that couldn’t wait to get back on the football field from the start, as it executed a flawless 3-play, 77-yard drive that was all Stowers pass plays, including the 52-yard drive capper to Robert Lewis just 47 seconds into the game that gave the Newton a 7-0 lead.
Of the lightening-fast drive to start the game, both Stowers and Banks called it a moment where preparation met chance.
“We do script our first drive,” Banks said. “That said, you don’t know what’s going to happen. We just ran the plays we thought would be successful against them, and it worked on the first drive.”
Said Stowers: “Coach Banks said it just be like that sometimes. I’m just glad we executed really well and were able to put points on the scoreboard.”
After a couple of empty possessions for both teams following the quick touchdown, it was time for Newton’s defense to get into the scoring act. It happened after Arabia Mountain quarterback Bryson Williams fired a pass to Matthew Crawford streaking down the left sideline for a 45-yard gain that gave Arabia a 1st and goal from the 5-yard line.
But Newton’s DeJuan Brown stepped in front of Williams’ next pass, snagging it at the 2-yard line and returning it to the house 98 yards for the pick six that doubled Newton’s lead at the 4:09 mark of the first quarter.
Arabia Mountain would finally answer back after changing quarterbacks and inserting Myles Crawley into the game. Crawley engineered an 8-play, 90-yard scoring march, getting the help of a pair of big plays through the air.
The first was Crawley connecting with Crawford for 60 yards. Three plays later, Crawley would hook up with Khalil Roach on a perfectly thrown fade route to the right corner of the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown.
Whatever momentum that play gave the Rams from Lithonia was short-lived, however, because two possessions later, Newton’s Stowers connected with a wide open Adarius Thomas who walked in from 15 yards out.
Arabia’s ensuing possession only last two plays, as Khalil Wilcox recorded Newton’s second pick six of the night, returning an intercepted Williams pass 54 yards for a score that extended Newton’s lead to 27-7 right before halftime.
“Anytime you can get two touchdowns on defense, one with them at your door step, it’s a good night,” Banks said. “The Blue Swarm, we call our defense the Blue Swarm, I think they were wonderful. We practice creating the turnover. We practice scoring.”
Arabia Mountain struck first in the third quarter with Williams finding Stanley Pritchett for a four-yard touchdown toss to pull within 27-14 with 4:17 left. But Stowers closed out the scoring for Newton with a pair of 38-yard touchdown passes to Mike Mathison — the first one coming with 3:07 left in the third, and the final at the 7:21 mark of the fourth quarter.
Arabia Mountain’s Christopher Barnes would add a garbage time 10-yard touchdown run to provide the final score. But that didn’t taint the way Banks felt about the statement his team made in the dominating victory.
“I think they responded well to the last time we played,” he said. “They had that sour taste in their mouths that they wanted to get out. We’ll continue to coach them up into doing the right things and helping them take care of business just like they did tonight. I’m very proud of the way they played.”
Next up for Newton is a trip to Class AAAAA No. 3 Buford for a 7:30 p.m. Friday kickoff. And while many may be wondering how the Rams will respond to playing what’s often regarded as a perennial power in their house, Banks said such a notion is old hat to his program.
“We’ll just continue to do what we do,” Banks said. “This is Newton High School. If you don’t know anything about Newton, maybe you think playing Buford is something. But we’ve played Lowndes. We’ve played Valdosta. We’re gonna try to play the big dogs, because we can’t get any better playing little people.”