Little things cost NEL in loss to Newton Co.
By By Will Bardwell/staff writer
September 13, 2003
Northeast Lauderdale may have improved since a loss to Northwest Rankin in its season opener, but after a 30-20 loss to Newton County on Friday night, Trojans' head coach Steve Nelson said his team still has a long way to go.
"The little things beat our tails tonight," said Nelson, whose team fell to 1-2 after the loss. "We gave up 16 points off turnovers and a safety, and we got zero points off turnovers. We also got down inside their five yard line twice and came away with nothing."
The Trojans offense, led by quarterback Maurice Langston's 134 rushing yards, moved the ball throughout the night on Newton County's defense. Turnovers were the difference.
Both teams committed four turnovers, but Northeast Lauderdale never capitalized on the opportunities. A field goal attempt that missed from 32 yards in the first quarter was the closest that the Trojans came to scoring off one of the Cougars' miscues. It was one of two failed field goal attempts in the first quarter for Northeast Lauderdale.
Otherwise, the Trojans dominated the first quarter. Northeast Lauderdale started their first drive at their own 40-yard line after a pooch kickoff by the Cougars. It was the only time in the first quarter that the ball lay in Trojans territory.
Newton County finally broke across midfield on the first play of the second quarter. Two minutes later, the Cougars scored their first touchdown on a run by junior quarterback Colby Amis.
Less than a minute later, the Cougars took possession again after a Trojan fumble on the Northeast Lauderdale 27-yard line. After converting on fourth down and 12, Newton County ended the drive with a two-yard touchdown run by junior running back Willie Windham.
Northeast Lauderdale countered on a 54-yard touchdown pass from Langston to Calvin Scott on their next possession, but the Cougars countered with another touchdown for a 21-7 halftime lead.
The two teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter. The final nail came for the Trojans when Windham and Brandon Goff combined to sack Langston in the end zone for a safety, increasing the Cougars' lead to 30-13.
Northeast Lauderdale rallied for one last touchdown run by Langston with eight minutes remaining, but failed to convert on their next possession, and the Cougars ran out the clock.
Despite Langston's success on the ground, he was hounded by Newton County's defensive front all night.
"We felt like we needed to apply pressure to their offensive line," said Cougars head coach Jeff Breland. "We couldn't sit back in a base defense and play them like that. We thought it would make sense to bring some folks. Sometimes it hurt us, but overall I was pleased."
The Cougars, whose win was their first of the season, broke several long runs that Breland credited to his offensive line.
"The offensive line has learned a lot," said Breland, whose Cougars are now 1-2. "It takes those guys a little bit longer to develop. We did a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage at times."
Nelson said he was disappointed by the loss, but he is optimistic that the team may be able to learn from it.
"They saw tonight what it takes to win a football game," said Nelson of his team, whose record is now 1-2. "I saw a different look from them after this loss than I did after the Northwest Rankin loss. It really bothered them, and as a coach, that's the look I want to see."