COVINGTON — Newton kept their cool after Alcovy found the endzone twice in the first quarter to win their Region 2-AAAAAA opener 17-14 on Friday at Homer Sharp Stadium.
There was no doubt that Alcovy (4-2, 1-1) wanted the ball first as they opted to receive the kickoff after winning the coin flip.
It didn’t take long for them to show they were ready to play as Kenyon Kelley took the opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown.
After forcing Newton (2-3, 1-0) to punt the ball, Alcovy drove the ball 72 yards in six plays ending with a 26-yard run by Jared Farley to give the Tigers a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter. Alcovy was aided in their drive by a 15-yard pass interference and a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.
“Penalties and special teams, I have to fix those. That’s a reoccurring thing every week,” Newton head coach Terrance Banks said. “We’re going to work on it to get better if we want to go deep into the playoffs.”
Newton found themselves being forced to punt in their first three drives while earning two first downs. That was when they started using all four downs to get the first down. The Rams made their first down three times before failing to get the fourth first down. Newton had the chance but after the receiver caught the ball to move the chain, he dropped it on the way to the ground.
The Rams special teams gave the offense the field position they needed when Taylor Hawkins returned an Alcovy punt 53 yards putting the ball on the Alcovy 17-yard line. Even though the Tigers defense didn’t give up the touchdown, the field position was too close allowing Donovan Graydon to kick a 32-yard field goal.
Newton really started to believe they could win when quarterback Romario Johnson scored on a five-yard run with 33 seconds left in the first half to make it 14-10.
Newton continued to build their confidence from the second quarter putting the ball on the Alcovy 28-yard line following a Robbie Wallace 43-yard kickoff return to start the second half. After being hit with a five-yard penalty, Johnson connected with Davonta Jones for the touchdown.
“I totally believe that because of the conditioning we’re going to be fantastic in the second half,” Banks said. “I think that showed (Friday) night. I always tell my kids to stay the course and that’s what we’re going to do. Stay the course and keep fighting for the next play.”
Alcovy had several chances to win the game in the fourth quarter with the ball sitting on the Newton 21-yard line. But they were unable to take advantage of the field position giving the Rams the ball back to run out the clock.
The normally explosive Alcovy running game was held to 158 yards on 41 carries with another 39 yards in the air coming on one reception.
“We missed too many opportunities. How many times were we inside the 20 and couldn’t score? We had our chances, but we have to capitalize on those chances and we didn’t,” Alcovy head coach Kirk Hoffman said.
“They played well enough to win, we didn’t play well enough. The bottom line was it was my fault, I didn’t prepare them like I should have. We’re going to come back next week, with an open week, and get better.”