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PREP FOOTBALL: Twice as Nice
Rams roll past Eagles to claim second straight county crown
Newton FB
Newton running back (2) Quincy Cullins carries the ball against Eastside in the first half of Friday night’s win. Cullins, who spent the first two seasons of his varsity career as an Eagle, scored the Rams’ first touchdown of the night. - Taylor Beck | The Covington News

COVINGTON, Ga. — The Newton Cup is staying with the Rams.

Newton High School completed the county sweep Friday night when it survived a tough test against Eastside High School, pulling away late in a 21-7 victory. It marks the second straight year the Rams have earned the Newton Cup — knocking off Alcovy and Eastside in back-to-back weeks to start both seasons.

It wasn’t the prettiest win. The Rams found the end zone just once through the first three quarters, and they continued to struggle — albeit, much less than last week against Alcovy — in the penalty department.

But by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, they stepped up and put the Eagles to bed.

“Perseverance, and the way that we fought,” Newton head coach Camiel Grant Jr. answered when asked his key takeaway from the win. “Eastside is always a very well-coached team. They always play hard. I have a lot of respect for those guys. It was stressful going through it, but that’s what I expected.”

Clinging to a 7-0 lead, Newton wasted no time giving itself some breathing room in the fourth quarter. On the first play of the period, junior quarterback Jevarra Martin Jr. dropped back and hit senior Nyland Green in the back-left corner of the end zone, doubling the Rams’ advantage.

But Eastside wouldn’t go away quietly.

On their second drive of the fourth quarter, junior running back Dallas Johnson found a seam in the middle of the field and burst through it on his way to a 79-yard touchdown. Just like that, following more than three quarters’ worth of offensive woes, the Eagles found themselves trailing 14-7 with 6:01 left to play.

Newton attempted to answer on the ensuing drive, but couldn’t. After working their way down to the 11-yard line, the Rams had their field goal attempt blocked to give Eastside the ball back at the 2:50 mark.

The Eagles continued to ground and pound their way toward midfield. But as they faced a fourth down on the Rams’ 49, a fumbled snap was recovered by Newton sophomore Justin Benton to seal the deal.

“Our guys did a tremendous job defensively,” Grant said. “They really set the tone for us for the whole night. And if we can get them to continue to play that way, we’re going to have a chance in every ball game.”

The dagger was promptly applied by senior Rontravious Perry, who took a handoff and jetted toward the left side of the field before skirting down the sideline for a 49-yard touchdown with just over a minute remaining.

Eastside dropped to 1-1 on the season, but head coach Troy Hoff was encouraged by the effort of his team to claw back into the game late.

“We’re fighting. That’s a team that sticks together, and they’re going to give us four quarters of effort,” Hoff said. “We’re not who we want to be yet, but we’ve got time to get there.”

The lone score in the first half came on a 13-yard rushing touchdown from Newton senior Quincy Cullins, who, fittingly, spent the first two years of his varsity career clad in green and white for Eastside.

The Eagles will try to get back in the win column when they return to Sharp Stadium next Friday, Sept. 25, for a county clash against Alcovy. As for the Rams, they’ll remain idle next Friday before resuming action on Friday, Oct. 2, at state powerhouse McEachern.