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Rams hurt themselves in loss to Newnan

COVINGTON -- Three interceptions, four personal fouls and six three-and-out drives enabled Newton to shoot itself in the foot and give Newnan the momentum it needed to get a 21-7 win on Saturday at Homer Sharp Stadium.

Of those six times the Rams (3-1 overall, 0-1 Region 2-AAAAA) had to punt, five were five or more yards away from getting a first down. In addition to Newton hurting itself on offense, its defense helped Newnan (2-2, 1-0) with three first downs after stopping them thanks to penalties.

"The defense -- we didn't help ourselves there, getting them in third down then getting a penalty on a silly mistake and undisciplined calls. Those are things we have to get fixed," Newton head coach Cortez Allen said. "We're still in the early part of our region season. We have to get those things fixed if we're to be successful."

Newton's problems started in its opening drive. On the eighth play, Rams quarterback Gmatreian Brown's throw resulted in Newnan taking the lead on a 36-yard Nick Cameron interception.

"That's a thing that's been a thorn in our side, getting off to a slow start," Allen said. "With (the)swing pass, I think we just got a little lackadaisical with our read and our look and he just let it go thinking that they gave it to him. He sat there in the flat. It was a great play by them and a poor play by us. That's really what it came down to."

Brown's completion rate would have been well over 50 percent if not for multiple dropped passes to open receivers. The Rams finished the game with 154 passing yards.

The Cougars took a comfortable lead after an 11-play, 54-yard drive capped by a 3-yard Quinton Dix run with 3:06 left in the first period. Dix led all rushers with 81 yards on 22 carries.

Newton's passing game wasn't bad all the time. In Newton's scoring drive, Brown put the ball in the air nine times for six completions, including a 29-yard pass to Javonte Williams, before connecting with Taylor Hawkins for a 15-yard touchdown a minute into the second quarter.

But Brown finished the game with three interception while completing 42 percent of his passes, going 13-for-31.

"We have to do a better job (passing). But it came down to them making plays and us not (making plays)," Allen said.

Field position also played a big part in the outcome as Newton started its drives inside the 10-yard line three times with an average starting position of the 18-yard line. The Cougars' starting positions, on the other hand, averaged on the 37-yard line near midfield four times and inside Newton territory once.

Newnan's final drive started on the Rams' 39-yard line. It took five plays before Cody Darracott scored on a 6-yard pass from Nick Smith with nine minutes left in the game.

"This is one we wanted to get," Allen said. "It's like we tried to tell the kids, we had to get this one because this was a team we felt like we could beat. If we don't take care of those games early, you get to the end of the season then you're back to what you would've, could've or should've done."