Newton Defense Comes to the Rescue in State Title Game
ARLINGTON – It was a rough afternoon for the Newton Eagles’ offense.
Aside from a touchdown on its opening drive of the game, Newton had trouble moving the ball.
Thankfully for the Eagles, their defense came to play.
Newton scored twice off Canadian turnovers, and got a championship-sealing interception inside its own 5-yard line to help the Eagles to a hard-fought 21-16 win Thursday in the Class 3A Division II title game at AT&T Stadium.
“Our defense has played outstanding all year,” said Newton coach W.T. Johnston. “We were really good on defense last year, and I thought we were gonna have a little drop off, but we really haven’t. Up front I didn’t think we’d be as good, and we’ve been pretty good up front all year. It’s really surprised me, the kids have bought in.”
Canadian managed just 55 yards of offense in the first half, and was held off the scoreboard, as Newton took a 21-0 lead into halftime.
“The thing about our defense is we do so much stuff, and that contributes to a lot of our success because it keeps people messed up on offense,” Johnston said. “They can’t get where we’re gonna be because we’re moving around so much. Our kids on defense are real quick, and they’re really strong, and they’re very aggressive. And that’s a good combination.”
The Wildcats got back in the game with a safety and touchdown in the third quarter, and another TD in the fourth, and was in position to come all the way back for the win.
Canadian got to Newton’s 21-yard line with less than a minute to play, but Wildcats quarterback Casen Cavalier’s fourth-down pass toward the end zone was picked off by Dominique Seastrunk at the 4-yard line with 31 seconds to play.
“Coach told us to stay focused,” said Newton senior quarterback/safety Josh Foster. “They made a bunch of big plays on offense, so to be able to get that pick at the end was big.”
That was one of several big plays made by the Newton defense.
Kevin Watson, who was voted the game’s Defensive Most Valuable Player, had a 13-yard pick-six to give Newton a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.
Later in the period, Newton’s James Sylvester forced a fumble, which teammate Maliak Metoyer recovered, which set up Newton’s third and final touchdown.
“That was the game,” Johnston said of the first-half turnovers. “That was who blinked first, and they blinked.”
The defensive heroics were much needed as Newton’s offense was stymied for most of the afternoon.
The Eagles finished with just 253 yards, 240 below their season average.