HOSCHTON, Ga. — A strong game on the ground proves too much to overcome for the Rams, as Newton falls to the Mill Creek Hawks in the first round of the Class AAAAAAA state playoffs by a score of 45-14.
Finishing the regular season with a record of 7-3, the Rams were hoping to continue to win streak going into the state playoffs as they would match up against the 8-2 Hawks in the first round.
After holding the Rams to a quick three-and-out on the opening drive, the Hawks struck first as quarterback MJ Patterson took the quarterback keeper 34-yards down the sideline and in for the score, giving Mill Creek the early 7-0 lead.
Despite a crucial third-down run by junior Quincy Cullins, the Rams were forced to punt again, giving the Mill Creek offense the ball around midfield.
It only took two plays for Hawks running back Chancellor Lee Parker to find the open hole on the line and take the ball 58 yards for the Mill Creek touchdown.
The long run gave the Hawks the 14-0 lead with just under three minutes left in the opening quarter.
On the next offensive drive for the Rams, a bad snap would cause senior quarterback Neal Howard to fumble the ball, recovered by the Mill Creek defense at the Newton 23-yard line.
Mill Creek would use a trick play inside of the red zone, handing the ball off to running back Parker Wroble, who would pass to Timothy Page wide open in the end zone to extend the Hawks lead 21-0 with 1:11 left in the first quarter.
After being held to their third straight punt the open the game, the Rams would then force Mill Creek into their first punt of the game. The long punt by the Hawks was muffed by the Rams’ special teams, giving Mill Creek the ball back on the Newton 29-yard line.
Attempting to score on the good field position, Patterson would take a shot to the end zone, which would be intercepted by junior Nyland Green, giving Green three interceptions in the past two games for the Rams.
Howard would open the next drive by going straight to Green for a 10-yard pass. Howard would go to the junior once again two plays later, finding Green down the sideline for the 86-yard touchdown pass, cutting the Mill Creek lead to 21-7 with 7:16 left in the second quarter.
After forcing a second straight Mill Creek punt, the Rams offense would look to keep the momentum going after the long touchdown pass on the previous drive.
The Hawks offense stopped the Rams, with defensive back Caleb Downs intercepting Howard inside Newton territory, giving the Mill Creek offense the ball with just over a minute left in the second half.
Following the interception, the Hawks were stopped by the Rams on a crucial third down. Nicholas Calabrese would make the 34-yard field goal as time expired to give Mill Creek the 24-7 lead going into halftime.
After returning the opening kick of the second half to the Newton 25-yard line, the Mill Creek offense would drive the rest of the way down the field, capping the drive off with a four-yard rush by Parker to extend the Hawks’ lead 31-7.
Starting the drive on their own 30-yard line, Howard would move the Rams offense downfield on two big quarterback keepers, taking the Newton offense to Mill Creek’s 30-yard line. Howard would then take the next snap and go to the air, finding senior Diondre Glover in the end zone to shorten the Hawks’ lead to 31-14.
Following the Newton touchdown, the Hawks would answer on the first play of their next drive, with Parker once again finding the open hole up the middle and taking the ball 65 yards for the Mill Creek touchdown making the lead 38-14.
Following consecutive turnovers from both teams, the Rams were held to a punt deep in their own territory. The snap would be muffed and recovered by Mill Creek inside the end zone for a touchdown. The fumble recovery for the score would increase the Hawks lead 45-14 just after the start of the fourth quarter.
The Rams offense would continue to struggle throughout the remainder of the final quarter, with the weather conditions making it hard for the Howard and the rest of the Newton offense to hold onto the ball.
The Mill Creek offense would kneel the rest of the clock out in the final drive, earning the victory over the Rams in the first round of the AAAAAAA playoffs, 45-14.
After a strong first season for head coach Camiel Grant coaching the Rams, Newton ends its 2019 campaign with a 7-4 record.