Coach Josh Austin had been teaching his Newport Greypups in 2012 that hard work and perseverance would pay off for them in the long run as they dealt with another arduous week of practice.
Newport Independent - Newport, AR
Updated Nov. 2, 2012 @ 2:48 pm
Updated Nov. 2, 2012 @ 2:48 pm
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Then each Thursday, his Pups would fall prey to something unforeseen by the third-year head coach sending them home in defeat.
However, each week Austin and the Pups failed to make excuses, accepted responsibility and vowed to work even harder.
Just one week removed from what Austin described as "a perfect storm with all the turnovers and onside kicks and stuff" in a loss to Marianna, he wanted his team to play smart football, if nothing else, and it worked out."
The Greypups built a 24-8 lead at the end of the third quarter and survived two fourth quarter scores by Southside to come away with a hard-fought 24-22 victory.
"Both of our teams have been struggling and to get the opportunity to go out with a win will be huge for us going into off-season," a jubilant Austin said following the game.
In the season finale, Austin sent his ninth graders out with a win while at the same time giving his eight graders a building block for the future.
"That is the first win that these eighth graders have been on the field for, period. I hope that we can carry that success. Now, I can continue to remind them about that win instead of a bunch of losses. I can remind them of some good things to motivate and work out. That is going to make my off-season a lot more fun," he explained.
"I think that once this ninth grade group is paired with Carl and the classes above them that they are going to shine just like they always have. It has always been a successful group and they will continue to be successful."
Austin credits that ninth grade class with maintaining their composure against a torrent of bad events in 2012.
"One of the things about this year's ninth graders is that they held it together. The ninth grade crew that we started with is the group we ended with. They stayed together. It is real easy to get down when you are getting your butt kicked every week but they kept battling."
Austin continued, "They do love each other and they work well together. I can really only think of one practice where they didn't really seem to come out there that day. Most days they showed up every day, even during the bad times."
Ben Collier got the scoring started for the Pups with a 6-yard scoring run and 2-point conversion with 6:11 to go in the first half.
Following a Southside score to knot the game at 8-8 on the ensuing possession, Collier's 51-yard scoring run gave the Pups the lead for good. He added the successful 2-point conversion for a 16-8 advantage.
He followed the late second quarter run with an early 51-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. His third successful 2-point conversion gave the Pups a 24-8 advantage as the game moved through the wind and rain into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, two failed possessions by the Pups gave Southside a chance and they took advantage.
A 3-yard touchdown run with 5:19 to go in the game cut the lead to 24-14 and a 61-yard touchdown pass with 1:48 to go cut the lead to 24-22 following the 2-point conversion.
However, Newport's Sam Bowen recovered the Southside onside kick and the Pups were able to run out the clock to secure the win.
Austin credits a renewed dedication to the running game as a key to victory.
"Basically, we came into the game that we wanted to pound the ball and protect it. What made the game for us was that we didn't turn it over as many times this week but we also hit some big plays."