Newton Defeats West Orange-Stark Despite Absence of W.T. Johnston
[Matt Faye, special to ETSN.fm]
WEST ORANGE -- Leading by two touchdowns and looking to secure a statement win over West Orange-Stark, the Newton football team found the "dagger" it was looking for from seniors Tamauzia Brown and Darwin Barlow.
With WO-S driving deep into Newton territory early in the fourth quarter, Brown intercepted a pass from Mustangs quarterback Tyrone Wilson in the end zone to keep WO-S off the board. Two plays later, a 97-yard touchdown run from Barlow put the finishing touches on what turned out to be a 21-7 road win for Newton at Dan R. Hooks Stadium on Friday night.
"It's seems like every time we do something good, the next play we do something better," Brown said.
The Newton win was without its coach, W.T. Johnston, who missed the game to receive medical treatment for his ongoing condition. He plans to be back next week, according to multiple members of the Eagles coaching staff.
Johnston's son and defensive coordinator Drew Johnston filled in as head coach. Drew said despite not being at the stadium, his father didn’t miss out on delivering a pregame speech to his team.
“The players wanted to hear his speech, so he Face-Time’d in and got the kids ready before the game,” Drew said of his father. “They’re prepared for him to be in and out from time to time. They handled it well, so I’m proud of them. They wanted to win it for him.”
While Brown’s defensive play led to the turning point in the game, it was his offensive effort that got Newton out to its lead.
After a scoreless first quarter, Newton scored on its first possession of the second quarter on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Josh Foster to Brown.
The Mustang’s offense moved the ball effectively at times during the first half, but was never able to convert. As would become a theme for WO-S, the Mustangs were stopped on fourth-down attempts multiple times in the first half.
“I preach to them bend but don't break,” Drew Johnston said. “That’s the sign of a good defense and that’s what we did tonight.”
After a missed Newton field goal late in the second quarter, the Eagles lead stood at 7-0 at halftime.
Newton soon added to that advantage with another touchdown pass from Foster to Brown -- this time a 30-yard scoring hookup between the two.
Brown finished the game with five catches for 82 yards, including the two touchdowns.
Foster went 10-for-20 passing with 132 yards, two touchdowns and a pick, while Barlow finished with 160 yards rushing.
“We have so many weapons, it’s tough to defend all those guys and keep them down for so long,” Drew Johnston said. “Credit to West Orange-Stark, we had some trouble moving the ball, but it was just a matter of time.”
The Mustangs' best offensive threat came from running back Kavyn Cooper, who ran for 103 yards on 16 carries. WO-S completed just one pass until the fourth quarter.
The Mustangs only score of the game came late in the fourth quarter on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Tyrone Wilson to Jay'zn Robinson.
Although he wanted the shutout, Brown said he was happy with Newton’s defensive effort against a physical WO-S team.
“Our defense is pretty straight,” Brown said. “Coach challenges us and we seem to always come through. It’s fun playing on a good defense like we have.”
Following a bye week, Newton will host Gilmer, which advanced three rounds deep in the Class 4A Div II playoffs last season. West Orange-Stark will look to rebound with a road game against Class 5A Crosby.