After a 20-16 upset to Lovejoy, Newton was left distraught and out of control of their playoff destiny. With two games left Lovejoy is the remaining undefeated team in region play and Newton will need help from Tucker if it plans to win the region. Some things went awry in the contest for Newton, but they did enough things right to win. Below you'll find some takeaways from the game and what they have to do with Newton’s season going forward.
Middlebrooks is a solid backup
Myron Middlebrooks came in for senior starting QB Romario “Ray-J” Johnson when Johnson hurt his ankle on a run inside the five-yard line in the second quarter of the Newton/Lovejoy contest. The Rams would turn the ball over on downs after getting stuffed from two yards out, but Middlebrooks went to work on the next possession.
Middlebrooks completed two passes for 33 yards on the next drive and ran for the four-yard score. He would throw for a touchdown on Newton’s only possession of the third quarter to JJ Holloman. It wasn’t the TDs that showed why Middlebrooks could be a capable starter for Newton when Johnson leaves or even for the rest of the season if Johnson isn’t able to return for the Rams’ remaining games, but the throws Middlebrooks was able to make in the fourth quarter when Newton was trying to run out the clock show Middlebrooks’ capabilities.
The sophomore QB converted for a first down twice when Newton needed them most. The first, was on a throw to Holloman that saw Middlebrooks get pressured and step up find Holloman on a comeback route near the sideline. Then on fourth-and-three, Middlebrooks felt the pressure and scrambled to his right and made a good throw to Holloman for another first.
Newton got stopped on fourth down, but Middlebrooks made a pass to Dante Johnson and didn’t take a sack, giving Johnson a chance to make a play to get the first – an unsuccessful, yet smart play.
Don’t pencil in Middlebrooks as a hall-of-famer just yet, he’s no “Ray J,” but he has ability and you’re only as good as your backup quarterback. And Newton’s backup is pretty solid.
Missed tackles kill Newton
You always hear Rams’ head coach Terrance Banks say it’s the kids that have led Newton to their success while simultaneously taking the blame for their transgressions. It starts with putting the players in position to make a play and do what needs to be done. The coaches put the Rams in the right spots for most of the night, but Newton struggled to bring down the scrappy, quick ball-handlers from Lovejoy.
The play that’ll be looked at the most is the game-winning touchdown that saw three Rams get a chance to bring down Wildcat receiver Marquese Taylor to no avail. That play was costly but there were plenty of third downs in the first half where Newton just couldn’t wrap-up and get a stop. Those things make a huge difference in games like the one Newton just lost.
Banks has said they’ll get back to basics and coach his team up so that missed tackles isn’t a problem anymore.