COVINGTON — It was rivalry week for the Newton Rams and Eastside Eagles, and neither team wanted to end their much-anticipated 16th all-time meeting with a bad taste in their mouths.
The Eagles wanted to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2005, and the Rams wanted to continue their strong play from last week’s win against the Alcovy Tigers.
It was a slugfest for both teams to start the game, but it couldn’t have gone any worse for the Eagles. On the first play of the game, the kickoff was fumbled and recovered by the Rams.
Two plays later on second-and-11, running back Quincy Cullins, an Eastside transfer, fought his way in the end zone for 16 yards to get the Rams on the scoreboard.
After a stellar performance last week, Newton quarterback Neal Howard had a bad start to this game throwing two interceptions in the first quarter.
The Eagles capitalized off the first pick, which set them up for a 2-yard touchdown run by Colby Shilvers that tied the game at 7-all. The second interception set the Eagles up on their own 36, but they were not able to capitalize.
Mistakes kept the game close in the first, as both teams combined for six penalties. Multiple holding calls kept pushing each team back deep into their own territory.
The second quarter was a complete 180 for the Rams, who scored 21 points in less than six minutes.
On the first series of the quarter an 11 play, 66-yard drive led to Cullins' second TD run to put them up 14-7. The Rams didn’t stop their attack, and two plays later recovered an Eagles fumble.
In four minutes, Cullins was in the end zone again, this time with a 2-yard run to stretch the lead. The Rams continued their feast on the Eagles on the next play and punched the ball out of running back Terrence Reid’s hands to recover another fumble.
In the next minute, the Rams scored again with Howard throwing a 27-yard TD pass to Robert Lewis, putting them up 28-7.
The Rams had a safe lead heading into the third quarter, but the mistakes from earlier in the game crept back on the field.
Howard found himself overthrowing on several passes that could’ve been touchdowns. His bread and butter was in the short pass game, though, which is where he had most of his completions.
The Eagles couldn’t find a rhythm in the third quarter as well, stalling on two of their only drives. Already down by 21 points, the Eagles offense went into stagnant mode, mostly running the ball instead of airing it out.
After exiting last week’s game early with an injury, quarterback Noah Cook didn’t look like himself in this contest. The Rams defense gave him trouble all game rushing him out of the pocket and forcing awkward throws out of the senior.
Like the second quarter, the Rams had all the momentum in the fourth quarter.
Running back Jerrol Hines bursted out a big run that put the team in scoring range. A few plays later, Howard lobbed a 53-yard pass to Lewis down the sideline for this third touchdown catch of the season, extending their lead to 35-7 with 8:50 left.
After another stall out by Cook and the Eagles offense, the Rams found themselves scoring again, this time a 23-yard run from Hines, his third touchdown on the season.
To put the icing on the cake, Rams linebacker Javaris Smith forced a fumble on the Eagles and sealed the win for the home team.