COVINGTON -- Newton's defense came to life after a sloppy first quarter with seven sacks and three interceptions as it not only beat Westlake but kept it out of the playoffs with a 35-14 win on Saturday.
Last season, the Rams (4-4 overall, 1-4 in Region 2-AAAAA) had to win out in order to make it to the playoffs as the No. 4 seed before losing to the Lions. This season, Westlake (3-5, 1-4), who had a mathematical chance to make it to playoffs after beating East Coweta 31-21, will be staying home after the loss.
But returning the favor is not important to Rams head coach Cortez Allen. What is important is snapping a four-game losing streak.
"That (revenge for last season) is something we use for the kids as motivation. We just wanted to go out and win the game," Allen said. "It feels good. Now we can watch the film and look at some of the mistakes we made and some of the good things and still feel good about the win."
As the coaching staff watches the film they may want to start it after the first quarter. After Aaron Pierce scored on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Gmatreian Brown, the team seemed to fall apart. Sloppy attempts at tackling and players frozen in their tracks allowed Westlake's Devin Anderson to gain 82 yards which led to the tying touchdown.
All the Rams had to show for the rest of the quarter were five penalties, two fumbles and a blown blocking assignment on a fake-punt try.
But the defense was able to force Westlake into two three-out situations until the offense got back on track.
"I don't know what happened there. That was probably the worst series of football I've ever seen. I thought we did a good job of staying focused and being able to maintain what was going on in the first quarter," Allen said. "It's tough but I was proud of our kids for sticking in there to move forward."
It wasn't until after Newton fumbled the ball on a punt return that they got their focus.
The first play by Westlake following the fumble, Newton's Devonta Hunt intercepted Renard Battle's pass returning it 68 yards to the Westlake 18-yard line.
It took Javonte Williams, who rushed for 90 yards on 20 carries, two plays before punching the ball past the goal line on a 14-yard jaunt.
"He has been doing a heck of a job running the ball," Allen said of Williams. "He's been a top back for us over the year."
Williams scored on a 3-yard scamper five minutes later following a Joe Rockett interception.
The second half started with the Lions taking the momentum. After scoring on a seven-play, 80-yard drive which included a 49-yard run by Charles Purnell, Westlake got ball back when Newton fumbled the kickoff.
But the Rams were able to get the momentum back after blocking a field goal attempt.
Darius Dean, who had a 34-yard run, helped get the ball in position for Williams to score on a 25-yard run with five minutes left in the third period to make it 28-14.
BJ Reid was able to put the game even more out reach with a 2-yard run two minutes into the final period.
The Lions had hopes of topping Newton but those hopes were quickly squashed by a Terrell Truitt interception.
Westlake started playing outside the parameters of the game getting two personal foul penalties but Newton's players were able to maintain their composure and not retaliate.
"It just got to a point where the kids got scrappy," Allen said. "We told our kids to stay away from that. We're just going to continue to work to keep our heads in those situations."
Newton place kicker Zack Sullivan was a perfect 5-for-5 on extra-point attempts.