FAIRBURN, Ga. — The Newton Rams won its season opener 7-6 in overtime against the Langston Hughes Panthers on Friday thanks in part to the leg of sophomore kicker Jefferson Hernandez.
In a game that the winning team only needed one point to win, Newton’s definitive point came on a PAT kick in overtime.
After Jevarra Martin Jr. connected with Andrew Leslie for a four-yard touchdown, Newton successfully did what the Panthers couldn’t: convert the extra point try.
When the ball went through the uprights, the eruption that came from the visiting stands and sideline was reminiscent of a home game.
Once the game concluded, head coach Camiel Grant Jr. highlighted his team’s heart as the difference maker down the stretch.
“I think this win does a lot for their confidence to know they can play in a game like this,” Grant said. “There’s only positive things to say for the way we finished the game.”
The score came after the end of regulation and the teams were tied 0-0.
Though the offense delivered the game-winning score, the final result may not have even been possible if it not for the stellar defensive play by the Rams.
Specifically in overtime, Newton surrendered a one-yard touchdown run to the Panthers. Most teams at that moment could’ve quit, but not the Rams.
On the ensuing extra point attempt, Newton blocked it and gave its offense a chance.
Defensive coordinator Spencer Fortson recognized that it was a complete defensive effort throughout Friday’s contest.
“We came together as a unit and played hard,” Fortson said. “They were ready to come out here and fight. Hats off to our players for believing in what we wanted to do and executing.”
From the opening snap of the game, Newton’s defense stood tall and their play was huge for the Rams to earn this season opening win on the road.
Now, though it wasn’t always positive for his team, Grant said he believes the final result signifies a lot more than just a win.
“This is a credit to Newton High School of our culture that we don’t quit,” Grant said. “This experience showed us that ‘hey we fought for four quarters and finished the ball.’ That’s what I take away from tonight’s win.”