COVINGTON — What could have been a battle down to the wire between Region 8-AAAAAAA foes Archer and Newton turned into two touchdown win for the Tigers.
Archer scored the last 16 points of the game to win 29-13 Saturday afternoon.
“There are some things to be pleased about, and there’s definitely some things I’m disappointed in,” Newton head coach Camiel Grant said.
With a game plan geared towards establishing the run, Archer’s first five offensive calls were run plays, including a 19-yard scamper from quarterback Carter Peevy.
Five plays later, the Tigers were not able to covert on third down after an incomplete pass and settled for a 22-yard field goal from Jacob Waters.
The Rams stalled out on their first offensive drive and had to punt, which sailed high in the air for only 10 yards. The special teams blunder gave the Tigers good position once again starting on the Rams 33-yard line.
The Tigers continued to pound the ball with Schmari Campbell and Jordon Swain, running the same play power play throughout the series. The Rams once again stopped the Tigers on third down, and Waters kicked a 33-yard field goal to put Archer in front 6-0.
Newton’s offense began to show signs of life on their next drive, opening up with a 30-yard pass from Neal Howard to Diondre Glover. Two false start penalties set them back in the series, but two big passes from Howard kept the drive going.
The Rams eventually had to punt after a completion to Jerrol Hines fell just short of a first down near mid field.
“Our biggest problem right now seems to be we find a way to follow a positive play with a penalty,” coach Grant said. “If there’s been one thing offensively, that’s been it. We make a big play and immediately following that we get some type of penalty, and the same thing happened tonight.”
Archer decided to switch things up in their game plan after finding success in their passing attack on their next possession. Peevy found Messer for a 22-yard gain, then hit Zion Jackson for a 15-yard gain.
Peevy used his legs on the next play and scrambled for 14 yards to put the Tigers on the 12-yard line. Two plays later on third-and 13, Peevy delivered a pass to Messer for a 16-yard touchdown to extend Archer’s lead 13-0.
Newton moved the ball with ease on their next possession. On a first-and-10 on their own 48-yard line, wide receiver Robert Lewis caught a 10-yard pass and broke a several tackles on his way to a 52-yard touchdown to cut Archer’s lead 13-6 after a blocked extra point.
The Rams were bound to score again right before the half, but Diondre Lewis was called for an illegal shift penalty that knocked them out of scoring range.
Newton made sure to make up for that missed opportunity in the beginning of the third quarter. The Rams started on their own 20 yard-line and marched down the field with relative ease.
With an ensuing fourth-and-six on the mount for the Rams, Howard found Lewis again for a 28-yard score down the middle of the field to tie the game at 13-all.
“We knew we had to play on the perimeter against them,” coach Grant said. “We felt like we were better outside than they were, and for most of the afternoon that worked for us.”
Newton played a stout game on defense throughout the contest, and on Archer’s next offensive possession, Peevy was sacked on back-to-back plays by Javari Smith and Darius Green.
“They played lights out,” coach Grant said. “Archer is a real good football team, their quarterback is a two, three-year starter and doesn’t make mistakes with the ball. We did a good job of keeping him in front of us, did a good job on the back end and not giving him windows to throw the football in.”
With the opportunity to take the lead for the first time all game, the Rams offense couldn’t get out of their own red zone.
On third-and-15, Howard fumbled the ball. After recovering it on their four-yard line, the punter bobbled the ball and watched as it landed in the back of the end zone for a Tigers safety.
After we gave up that safety, our energy went away,” coach Grant said. “It’s almost like instead of expecting to make a big play, we were waiting for something bad to happen to us. Up until that point I was happy with the way we were handling things.”
The Tigers offense stalled on their next two offensive series, which left the Rams with a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter. With 8:12 remaining in the game, Howard threw an interception to Abraham Mukwiza on second-and-10, which put Archer on the Rams 44-yard line.
With a fourth-and-1 coming for the Tigers at the 35-yard line, coach Andy Dyer called a timeout to gather his offense together with what appeared to be a pivotal play in the game.
Renoldo Spivey Jr. ran right down the middle, barely touched, for a 35-yard score to put the Tigers up 22-13 with 6:57 left in the game.
Now down two scores, it was up to the Rams to weather the storm with enough time left. Unfortunately, the offense couldn’t find a rhythm on their next possession, and Howard was sacked on back-to-back plays.
“It was probably about three plays where we just held onto the football too long and took sacks, where a throwaway and punt would’ve been a much better situation and given us an opportunity to change field position,” coach Grant said.
Archer then put the game out of reach with a 24-yard score from Swain in the closing minutes to secure a 16-point win.
ARCHER 29, NEWTON 13
Archer 6 7 2 14 — 29
Newton 0 6 7 0 — 13
Archer: Jacob Waters 22 FG 9:08
Archer: Waters 33 FG
Archer: Trey Messer 16 pass from Carter Peevy (Water kick) 7:58
Newton: Robert Lewis 52 pass from Neal Howard (Abidel Velasquez kick failed) 3:54
Newton: Robert Lewis 28 pass from Howard (Velasquez kick), 7:39
Archer: Safety (1:10)
Archer: Renoldo Spivey 35 run (Water kick) 6:57
Archer: Jordon Swain 24 un (Water kick) 1:10