As the Newport Greyhounds continue their march through the 2-4A conference in 2012, Coach Jeromy Poole and the young men in his charge have remained singularly focused on their pre-season goals.
“Get in the playoffs and anything can happen,” the second-year coach said during pre-season drills.
Their march to the playoffs, while not complete yet, got a big push last Friday night at Greyhound Field as the Hounds knocked off Clinton 63-28 to move to 5-3 overall but more importantly 3-2 in the conference.
“That was a great conference win at home for us. We had a great week of practice in preparation for these guys,” Poole said following the victory.
After the Yellowjackets jumped out to a 7-0 lead on their opening possession, Newport answered quickly - as they would seemingly do all night.
Carl Turner raced 46-yards for a score four plays later. The two-point attempt was no good but the Hounds had cut the lead to 7-6.
Following a Clinton punt, the Newport offense went back to work as Turner found the end zone for the second time. His 2-yard run and two-point conversion gave the Hounds a 14-7 advantage.
After a Newport turnover set the Yellowjackets up with great field position, they knotted the score 14-14 with 3:12 to go in the first half on a 16-yard scoring run.
Junior Kristen Crite again had an answer for Newport as his 7-yard score gave the Hounds a 20-14 lead as the two-point attempt failed.
It appeared the Yellowjackets’ Wing-T offense was going to give the Newport defense problems all night as they pushed the ball to the Newport 1-yard line.
However, a terrific goalline stand - aided by a Clinton penalty - turned the ball over on downs to the explosive Newport offense.
According to Poole, not only did they turn the ball over, that series turned momentum.
“Defensively we were able to make stops when we had to. We had a huge stop down here at 20-14. We were able to keep them out of the end zone and give the ball back to our offense.”
After getting the ball to near mid-field, Newport was forced to punt but the inspired Greyhound defense followed suit forcing a Newport punt and the offense settled in, according to Offensive Coordinator Don Harrison.
“We had a good feeling against these guys. We felt like if we got on the perimeter our guys could make plays but the more we got on the perimeter our kids kept telling me, 'up the middle, up the middle,’” Harrison explained.
“So then we started to hurt them in the middle and when that happened our offense really started to flow - to the point where they were either going to have to stay in the middle or stay on the outside, they couldn't pick and choose.”
A 39-yard scoring pass from Gunnar Bullard to Crite and two-point conversion by Crite pushed the lead to 28-14.
Following an interception by Deandre Elston late in the first half, Crite added a 4-yard scoring run with 1:34 remaining to give the Hounds a 34-14 lead.
Denver Smith recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Turner cashed the turnover in as he barreled 19-yards for a score. Shufon Alcorn added the two-point conversion for a 42-14 halftime lead.
A 76-yard catch and run by Charley Bell extended the Newport lead to 50-14 following the two-point conversion by Turner.
After a 25-yard scoring run by Clinton cut the lead to 50-21, Elston found paydirt on a 17-yard score to send Newport to a 56-21 lead at the end of three periods.
Another 25-yard scoring run by the Yellowjackets cut the Newport lead to 56-28 before Crite took a pass from Bullard up the sideline, reversed field and raced 52-yards for the final Greyhound score. Reid Johnson added the point after for the 63-28 margin.
“The next two weeks we have two more conference games, one at home and one on the road. I told our guys that despite what people say about Marianna we are not going to take anyone lightly,” Poole explained.
“Our kids are going to be here in the morning (Saturday), our kids are going to be here at 1:55 p.m. on Sunday and we are going to prepare for them just like anyone else in the conference. Then we will worry about the next one when it gets here.”
Offensively, Turner raced past the 1,000 yard mark (1,154) on the season with a career high 239 yards on 25 carries. He scored three touchdowns. Crite added 70 yards on 8 carries and scored twice. Elston totaled 25 yards - and a touchdown - on 3 carries while Bullard had 11 yards on 2 toes.
Bullard was 10-12 passing for a career-high 241 yards and 3 scores as Crite hauled in 4 catches for 112 yards and 2 scores. Bell had 85 yards - and a touchdown - on 2 catches. Elston had 2 catches for 32 yards and Garrett Smith had 2 grabs for 12 yards.
Defensively, senior linebacker Stephen Neal once again led the way with his fourth consecutive double-digit tackle game as he recorded 10 stops. Khairan Stafford added 9 and Alcorn had 6 stops. Hunter Bowen had 4 stops while Reid Johnson and Tim Brown had 3 each. Gene Morris and Warren Smith recorded 2 tackles each as McCabe Cordell, Chris Grady, Maurice Killingsworth, Terrell Roddy, Hayden Schulz and Denver Smith had 1 each.
Newport now turns their attention to Marianna who will be at Greyhound Field tomorrow night at 7 p.m.
“I appreciate the big crowd here tonight. The atmosphere was great and we just hope we can have another big crowd here next week,” said Poole.