COVINGTON - Big plays made the difference Friday at Homer Sharp Stadium. Newton made them; Eastside didn't.
The Rams won 32-17 for their first victory over Eastside since 2005.
"This means a lot," Newton coach Nick Collins said. "The whole thing about our program, it doesn't mean anything until you start beating the people across town. We had to have this one.
"For us, it was big plays. We had a big play on the power run, we get a big play with the interception return, the fumble return, it was all big plays. The deal breaker was the interception."
The first big play for Newton came with 1:30 left in the first period when Akeem Hunt busted through the line of scrimmage for a 59-yard touchdown run.
The second came with 11:09 left in the first half when Hunt scored after Bart Lindsey blocked a punt.
Ryan Ford had another big play in the second quarter with a 23-yard interception return.
Newton's final big play of the game came when Torrian Hunte rambled 61 yards for a touchdown after recovering a fumble - a minute after scoring on a 5-yard run.
It wasn't all big plays. The Rams also had a 75-yard, 13-play drive to start the fourth period that took more than five minutes off the clock.
Eastside had several opportunities to score early but missed field goals, and a surging Newton defense kept the Eagles off the board for the entire first half.
Eastside took its opening drive 64 yards but came up empty with a failed 35-yard field goal try. The Eagles also missed a 44-yarder wide left to close the opening half.
The Eagles had the ball inside Newton's 20-yard line three times in the third quarter and could only come up with three points.
Eastside fumbled the ball on fourth down with the ball on the 2, and they had a 42-yard field goal sail wide left.
The Eagles' only points with the ball in the red zone came with 3:26 left in the third on a Cody Sandler field goal.
"Our defense held those guys inside the 20 three or four times," Collins said. "What do you say? That was a great job by our defense. That goal line stand sealed the deal for us. I was saying that the momentum was changing and we can't lose the momentum. That goal line stand was an awesome effort by our defense."
Eastside had a big play of its own when Jerome Ivey caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Califf Carnes.
The other score for Eastside occurred with 2:17 left in the game on a pass from Carnes to Git Aiken.
"I can't begin to say enough about our coaching staff," Collins said. "Tim Hardison with the kicking game came out with a great plan. Camiel Grant on offense, Cortez Allen on the defense, and those guys on their staff, I can't say enough about what they did."
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.