The Newton Rams made a statement heard around Georgia this past week.
The Rams are here.
Newton knocked off No. 4 Lowndes on the road Friday night, stunning the Vikings 15-14 on a last second touchdown at Martin Stadium to even its record to 1-1 on the year.
On 4th-and-33, Newton quarterback Romario Johnson looked up field and saw nothing but wide open space, converting the fourth down on a 34-yard run. Johnson finished the Rams’ comeback bid with no time left on the clock, hitting wideout Davonta Jones for a dazzling touchdown grab as time expired.
Newton converted the extra point, earning its biggest win since 1994, it they snapped eventual state quarterfinalist Brookwood’s 7-game win streak in a 17-3 victory.
"We told our kids that they had to forget about last week's game and play the next play," Newton coach Terrance Banks said. "They took that belief into Lowndes. They had a chance to play a perennial state champ, in their house, against 14,000 of their fans. I told them that if they can hang with Lowndes, then they could go as far as they wanted to this season. Now they're ready to go anywhere, any time and play anybody."
The night didn’t begin on a high note for the Rams. Lowndes used a failed punt attempt by the Rams to start its first drive in favorable territory. The Vikings' Ahman Brown broke a 39-yard run for a touchdown and after a successful 2-point conversion, the Vikings held an early 8-0 advantage.
Newton responded to the Vikings' score with a 50-yard touchdown run by Atrice Hobbs, knotting the game at 8-8 in the first quarter.
Both teams remained scoreless for the rest of the half, but the Vikings broke the deadlocked game in the fourth quarter with just over nine minutes remaining.
Newton was flagged for pass interference on the Vikings' final scoring drive, placing Lowndes inside the Rams' red zone.
The Vikings converted the drive into a score one play later, as Austin Dixon hit Jerome Daniels for a 10-yard touchdown pass through the middle of the Rams' defense for the go-ahead score.
Lowndes botched the point after on a bad snap for a 14-8 lead.
Despite holding the lead, the missed extra point came back to haunt the Vikings on the Rams' final drive.
The Vikings had an opportunity to ice the game on a 29-yard field goal, but the Rams blocked the Vikings' kick, setting up a final drive at their own 35-yard line.
Needing to move 65 yards in under a minute, the Rams' hopes looked grim, especially after a holding call set the Rams up with a 4th-and-33.
Down to their final possession, the Rams converted on Johnson's run, adding an extra 15 yards on the play after Johnson was hit late out of bounds.
"I can't say enough about Romario," Banks said. "He was rattled. He was hit harder (in the game) than he's ever been hit. You can barely audible your plays because of the crowd noise. He'd already thrown a couple of picks.
"He had all the reason to fold, but on 4th-and-33 he had the guts to take off down the field and make a play," he said. "He would not be taken down. He took it personal."
The run set up the touchdown pass to Jones, and the Rams converted the extra point for the road win.
Newton allowed 203 yards on the ground to Lowndes, but the defense forced five fumbles, three of which the Vikings lost.
"Defensively, Desmond Billingsley had a big night for us," Banks said. "He took it as a moment to show everyone that he is as good of a linebacker as anyone. He played phenomenal."
Banks said that the win was a crucial one for the building of his program.
"We no longer have to tell the kids about what they can accomplish; they know now," he said. "When you beat teams that other people tell you that you're not supposed to beat, it gives you confidence. We needed that."
Newton travels to Valdosta on Sept. 20 in non-region play.