The 2012 football season came to a disappointing conclusion for the Newton County Rams Friday night at Sharp Stadium as the East Coweta Indians (3-AAAAAA) prevailed by a final score of 25-20 in the first round of the state playoffs.
"It was a great season," Newton coach Cortez Allen said. "The kids worked hard all year, but we just came up on the short end this time."
The Rams held the East Coweta offense in check for most of the first quarter and held the Indians out of the end zone despite a 56-yard run by Demarcus Godfrey that put the Indians inside the Newton 20.
But the Rams couldn't sustain a drive either.
According to Allen, the Rams tried to set a frantic pace early in the game to put pressure on an Indian team with a number of players who played offense as well as defense. The strategy was sound, but the Rams committed a number of penalties in their haste to get plays off.
Joe Rocket had an outstanding first half on defense for Newton County, making several tackles with some of them for substantial East Coweta losses.
Early in the second quarter, East Coweta quarterback Bryce Gemmel took matters into his own hands. Starting from his own 36, Gemmel carried once for 16 yards, again for 26 more and then hit Blake Robertson for 24 yards to the Newton two. From there, Godfrey scored the game's first touchdown. Spencer Smith kicked the extra point and East Coweta led 7-0 with 8:26 to go in the half.
The Rams then mounted a 17-play drive that saw them drive the ball 78-yards only to fumble the ball away on a fourth and goal play at the one yard line. Oddly enough, they got a first down out of it, because East Coweta fumble it right back. James Hardeman, who had 97 yards on the ground in the first half, scored the touchdown from the two. However, the extra-point attempt hit the goal post and East Coweta still led 7-6.
Newton County got the ball first in second half and wasted no time reclaiming the lead. It took the Rams just eight plays to score with Hardeman grinding it in from eight with six minutes to play in the quarter. The Rams two-point conversion failed but Newton County led 12-7.
A fumbled lateral unraveled the next Newton County possession and the Rams punted the ball away. The punter booted the ball off the side of his foot though, and East Coweta wound up with excellent field position at the Ram 34. Godfrey carried once for 15 yards and to the 19, and scored the touchdown from the 17 as East Coweta retook the lead.
The Indians dipped into their bag of trick on the two-point conversion attempt and pulled off a successful flea-flicker play with wide out Nigel Gay finding quarterback Gemmel open in the corner of the end zone.
Godfrey scored his third touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter after the Indians recovered a fumble at the Ram 29. After a successful kick by Smith, the Indians led 22-12.
Godfrey, one of the East Coweta players who played on both sides of the ball, intercepted a pass late in the fourth quarter that seemed to salt the game away for the Indians. East Coweta couldn't score a touchdown, but Smith kicked a 29-yard field goal to put the Indians ahead 25-12 with a little more than three minutes to play.
The Rams fought back, though. Quarterback Kemani Pittman led his team downfield quickly and threw a five-yard touchdown pass to David Comer with 29 second left. He then found Taylor Hawkins open for the two-point conversion.
Newton, trying to scrape out the victory, surprised no one with an onside kick.
But the attempt came up short as East Coweta emerged with the ball to conclude Newton's season.