COVINGTON - Newton's Demetrius McCray had been able to run through Eastside's defense for most of the game Friday night.
However, when it really counted, on a 2-point conversion in the second overtime, he was stopped for a loss by Eastside's Zack Johnston giving Eastside a 29-27 win Friday night at Homer Sharp Stadium.
"They were tired. We didn't have an offensive play all fourth quarter. But to come out right here and do what they had to do to pull out a win, I'm proud of them," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "I felt like they were coming back to the same play; that's what they did and we were fortunate to be in the right spot."
After going scoreless in the first overtime, Eastside quarterback Justin Wray ran the ball 8 yards for the score before Broderick Alexander made the 2-point conversion on a run.
"He jinxed us. Before the game he (Newton coach Nick Collins) said 'I know it's out of the question, but if we do go into overtime do you want to play?' I said 'Yeah, right.' He said it like he wasn't going to be able to hang with us," Hurst said. "My hat's off to Nick and that team. They came out with the option that we haven't seen them do and we didn't tackle the quarterback all night long. He had a field day on us."
The Rams got their overtime touchdown on a 6-yard McCray run.
Newton trailed Eastside 21-6 at halftime following an Eagles touchdown with five seconds left in the first half.
On the touchdown, Wray tossed swing pass to Alexander who scampered in from 5 yards out to give the Eagles a 15-point lead.
"We gave up a cheap touchdown right before halftime. A guy wasn't ready and it was a cheap touchdown," Collins said.
The Rams made some adjustments to turn things around in the second half.
After scoring on two field goals and gaining 108 yards in the first half, Newton took the opening drive and scored to make it 21-14.
It all started with a big return by Akeem Hunt plus a 15-yard face mask penalty to put the Rams on the Eastside 32. DJ Hill capped off the drive with an 18-yard touchdown run.
Also adjusting was Newton's defense, which gave up 155 yards rushing in the first half. In the second half, the Rams forced four fumbles and recovered two.
"Early in the week, I made a statement that it's a different feeling when you go out expecting to win rather them hoping to win. We felt like we were the better team. We prepared well. We made some critical mistakes in the first half. You have to remember that this is a team with only seven seniors. This is the first time these sophomores have played in a big-time varsity football game," Collins said. "I'm excited about our defense. One of the things we worked on all week was our turnover drill. If you're going to win big games, you have to win the turnover battle."
The Rams recovered their second Eastside fumble in the final minute of the third period, giving Newton the ball on its 26.
In previous possessions, the Rams were unable to sustain any real drives where they took a lot of time off the clock. This time was not the case as they moved the ball 74 yards in 23 plays.
In the drive that took up the entire fourth quarter, the Rams had four fourth down plays and had two crucial first downs as a result of pass interference calls.
Hunt crossed the goal with 1.3 seconds left in regulation before freshman kicker Cody Sandler tacked on the extra point sending the game into overtime.
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.