Colton Willis and the Newport Greyhound defense led the way as the Hounds downed the Nettleton Raiders 28-7 to begin the season 1-0 under first year Head Coach Don Harrison.
"It's great to be 1-0," said Harrison with a big smile. "We've talked about it all week, we've talked about it since the beginning, we take it a game at a time and now we're 1-0." Coach Mark Hindley's defense forced a punt on the Raiders first possession of the game as linebacker Tyler Asher had a tackle for loss on the drive and Willis added a sack. On the Greyhounds first offensive possession running back Carl Turner took off for a 16 yard gain running over a Raider defensive back in the process. Quarterback Gunner Bullard then hit Garrett Smith on a screen pass for about a 10 yard play. Nettleton was whistled for an offsides penalty setting up a 30 yard touchdown pass from Bullard to Shufon Alcorn to take a 7-0 lead early. The lead was short lived as on their second offensive possession Bullard was picked off by a Raider defensive lineman who returned the pick for a touchdown to tie the game at seven which was the score at the end of the first quarter. "I gave them seven points. It was a horrible call by me," said Harrison after the game. " I don't know what I was thinking. But you know, it's just one of those things when it happened I knew it was my fault and it's all on me." The second quarter started with a bang as Bullard hit wide receiver Charlie Bell for about a 30 yard gain to move the Greyhounds into Nettleton territory. Kristen Crite took the handoff and carried the ball 13 yards to set up yet another 30 yard touchdown throw from Bullard to Alcorn to give the Hounds a 14-7 lead. The defense took over and with Nettleton making a push Crite grabbed his first interception of the season. The Hounds punted on the ensuing possession but the defense held tough with Willis getting a big hit on the Raiders quarterback and Khairan Stafford stuffing their running back in the backfield for a loss. The half would end with the Greyhounds up 14-7 and the Newport defense allowing only 89 total yards in the half. The Greyhounds received the ball at the beginning of the first half and Crite took over as he led the Hounds on a seven play 88 yard touchdown drive. On second down Crite broke away and cut his way up field for a 40 yard gain. A couple plays later Bullard hit Warren Smith on an out route to set up a 17 yard touchdown run from Crite to put the Hounds up 21-7 early in the second half. The defense would take over from there as they continued their dominance and didn't allow Nettleton to score any offensive points the entire game. Colton Willis forced a fumble late in the third quarter which the Hounds recovered and Crite sealed the game when he intercepted the Raiders quarterback with about two minutes left in the fourth quarter and returned it 65 yards for the score. "That is Coach Hindsley's defense and they are a product of him," Coach Harrison said about the impressive performance from the Newport defense. "They are intense, they are tenacious and they swarm the football." Colton Willis was chosen as the player of the game and had 10 tackles, two sacks, two tackles for losses and forced a fumble. Other defensive standouts were Shufon Alcorn with six solo tackles, Khairan Stafford with four solo tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss and four quarterback hurries and Kristen Crite who had two interceptions, one for a touchdown. Offensively, Gunnar Bullard was 10 for 15 (66 percent) for 178 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Crite caught three passes for 35 yards, Alcorn had two catches for 60 yards, both were 30 yard touchdown grabs, Charlie Bell had two catches for 49 yards, Garrett Smith had two catches for 17 yards and Warren Smith had one catch for 17 yards. Carl Turner carried the ball 14 times for 38 yards and Crite had 10 carries for 104 yards and one touchdown. The Greyhounds will be back in action tomorrow night as they travel to Bald Knob with kickoff scheduled fro 7 p.m.