Newton was supposed to run away with this game, but with two weeks to plan Rome had other things in mind and they matched Newton almost point-for-point on the night. The Wolves took their first lead of the game with less than 50 seconds left to play with a 33-29 lead, but Newton answered on the first play from scrimmage when senior QB Romario Johnson tossed a 77-yard touchdown pass to JJ Holloman to take a 35-33 lead after the blocked PAT. Newton’s defense held tight in the final 19 seconds to win the game.
“Nervousness. Mad at myself really for a couple of play calls,” Terrance Banks, Newton head coach, said when asked what went through his mind when Rome score the late touchdown. “My boys are resilient, they believe in fighting. They looked at me and they said, ‘Coach, you always tell us to play the next play so you play the next play. Whatever you call for a let’s take it for a touchdown.’ And that’s exactly what happened.”
JJ Holloman returned after missing the first two games and Banks was more than pleased with his performance. He finished with seven catches and three touchdowns.
“JJ had an outstanding game,” Banks said.
Banks, admittedly said Rome was well-prepared for the game adding that they attacked Newton downhill and properly executed their short passing game.
“They’re a well-coached team. They definitely game-planned and sometimes even with a veteran-laden team – the one thing I kind of talked about on the coach’s show was, you asked me what we learned from the first two games, well one thing you don’t know that you’re learning or not is you don’t know how your kids take the winning,” Banks said. “Do they say, ‘Hey we won because we did everything right? Or we won because we’re as good as everybody says we are?’ I think it was half-and-half on the team. I think some guys thought we won because they’re as good as everybody tells them that we are and some of the guys took it as we did what we were supposed to do.”
“Rome had an excellent game plan. We led the game from the start to 41 seconds left, but they kept chipping away at us and did what they needed to do to eventually take over the lead,” Banks said. “I’m proud of the kids and how they faced adversity and were able to come out. You need that especially early in the season to go into a house to play and win and have to face adversity.”
Banks says this is the type of game the team needed. He says it was a good one for the team because it prepares them for adversity down the road and it helps them know who they are.
“It lets us know what we have to work on. Games like this can be game-defining mentally. Like I said, my boys – that never-die Newton’s-just-not-gonna-lose attitude, they have it now,” Banks said proudly. “When I first got there when things would go well we knew we were gonna take care of business. Sometimes when things didn’t go well we kind of looked at ourself and doubted. We kind of said, ‘Where’s the ball gonna bounce now?’ But the boys were extremely confident.”
“That’s the kind of stuff that you try to teach your kids, but you never know whether they get the lessons until it comes out and I’m extremely proud of them and extremely proud of my coaching staff the way they put that message into the boys,” Banks added.
Rome executed and did a lot of things well, running the ball effectively against Newton and making passes when they had to. Banks says they threw a lot of looks at Newton, from five-wideout sets to two halfback sets.
“We knew coming in that they were gonna play multiple quarterbacks, which they did. They played two quarterbacks,” Banks said. “They’ve got some outstanding young kids that two years from now everybody will be hearing about as these big-time prospects. They’ve got a great receiver as well, everybody will know his name next year – Jai Creamer.”
Westlake, who the Rams play next Friday at 7:30 p.m. on the road, will be a measuring stick type of game, Banks says.
Carrying the fallen
Local athlete Michael Mills organized a Carry the Fallen event to honor the memory of 9/11 and for the 22 veterans that commit suicide everyday. Mills and a large group of supporters walked from the Square to Greenlight Crossfit and back.