SNELLVILLE, Ga. — For the sixth straight season, the Newton Rams’ football campaign won’t end after the 10th game.
Newton travelled to take on the Shiloh Generals in a Region 8-AAAAAAA battled which the Rams used stellar defense, including a pair of pick sixes to notch a workmanlike 37-0 win — a win that clinched Newton’s sixth straight playoff berth.
The Rams quickly, and demonstratively set the tone early when junior Kahlil Wilcox picked off Shiloh’s pass on the first play of the game and took it to the house 45 yards for six. Junior Adarius Thomas ran in the two-point conversion to put the Rams up 8-0.
Then, in almost instant replay like fashion, Newton kicked off again, and on the first play of this drive, Darnell Jeffries sniffed out a screen play, intercepted the ball, and rumbled into the end zone for another Rams’ pick six. After the extra point, Newton took a 15-0 lead after just two plays from scrimmage.
Shiloh took their time on its next drive, methodically pushing the ball down the field. On fourth down, the Generals attempted a field goal, but the Rams blocked it, continuing their sterling defensive effort.
Newton took over, but Adarius Thomas, in a dazzling hurdle attempt, coughed up the football, giving Shiloh the ball in Newton territory.
The Generals threatened again, but on a fourth and two, a high snap forced a busted play, helping the Rams’ defense quickly corral the opposing quarterback for a turnover on downs.
On the Rams ensuing drive, they relied heavily on the read option with sophomore quarterback Neal Howard and senior running back Josh Smith. The Rams were marching the ball down the field, but a holding penalty, a sack, another holding penalty and another sack, on four straight plays, forced the Rams to punt it away, squandering a promising drive.
The Generals took over pinned deep in their own territory. After a few measly plays, Shiloh appeared to break off a huge run, but senior Elija Godwin chased the ball carrier down, stripped the ball, and recovered.
Newton took the ball and avoided two scares: a dropped interception and a fourth and inches conversion. To cap off the drive, Godwin took his talents to the offensive side of the ball and raced to the end zone, spinning away from a defender, for a 48-yard touchdown making the score 22-0.
The Rams’ defense remained stingy, and another Shiloh punt was capped off by a huge Jerrol Hines return. The return set the Rams up with prime field position, leading to a 29-yard sophomore-to-sophomore touchdown connection from Howard to Robert Lewis, putting them up 30-0 going into the half.
The script remained true in the second half: Newton defense stayed staunch, completing the dominate shutout, and Howard continued to look more comfortable in his second career start, as the Rams tacked on one last touchdown — a pass from Howard to Mike Mathison — to provide the game’s final margin.
The win gives Newton what will likely be the three seed. Newton head coach Terrance Banks was obviously excited about his defense’s domination, but also resolute when asked about the opportunity to compete in the playoffs once again.
“We got to go and take it to the next level,” Banks said. “We wanted to be here, we believed we could get here, and we did. Now we got to take it to the next stop.”
Newton will face Rockdale in its final region matchup of the year, next Friday for senior night.