NINETY SIX — Ninety Six High School capitalized on multiple Newberry High turnovers and penalties at Wilson-Campbell Stadium on Friday evening.
The Bulldogs fell to 6-2 on the season and are in a three-way for second in regional play at 2-1 after their 31-17 loss to the Wildcats.
Seventeen points came as a result of Newberry turnovers while the Wildcats were aided on their final touchdown drive by 30 yards in Newberry penalties on a third-and-nine play.
“We never got on track,” said Newberry head coach Phil Strickland. “They (Ninety Six) came in with a good game plan. We just made too many mistakes and you cannot beat a good team like that with that many turnovers and penalties.”
After winning the coin toss and electing to defer to the second half, a 20-yard botched kickoff was fumbled over to Ninety Six on the reception by Newberry. The Wildcats were held to a three-and-out after this.
Newberry failed to convert a fourth-down on their first three offensive possessions as the Bulldogs also turned the ball over to the Wildcats while fielding a punt with 4:02 left in the first quarter.
Having only 21 yards in front of them, Ninety Six was unable to make it to the end zone but instead Grant Dickey converted a 33-yard field goal with 2:38 left in the first stanza.
On Newberry’s ensuing possession, the Bulldogs attempted about a 15-yard fourth down pass play to the Ninety Six 25.
Jaylen Lindsay seemed to have made the reception inbounds well past the first down marker but he was called being out of bounds before having full possession of the ball.
Ninety Six was forced to punt before Newberry was held to their third straight failure to convert a fourth down.
The Wildcats saw the first down marker on five straight plays as they scored on a second-and-goal from a yard out for the 10-0 score with 4:15 left in the first half.
This 82-yard drive saw 21 yards in Newberry penalties.
Newberry converted one fourth down on their next possession as their next fourth down situation saw Jose Lozano coming out to convert a 28-yard yard field goal to end the half.
Newberry had 145 yards of first half offense while Ninety Six had 87.
The Wildcats returned the third quarter opening kickoff back 57 yards for a total net loss of two yards for Newberry.
Ninety Six turned the game back into a two-possession lead with a four-yard run with 10:32 on the third quarter clock and the 17-3 lead.
Both teams traded punts but when Newberry was attempting to field the Wildcats’ one at their 6, the punt was botched, which was recovered by Ninety Six in the air after a bounce.
The loose ball was picked up by the Wildcats and returned for the touchdown and the 24-3 lead. Newberry argued that the kicking team cannot advance a botched punt to no avail.
The Bulldogs finally made their way into the end zone with two seconds left in the third quarter when Omar Sims took it in from three yards out.
Khalil Sheppard was called in for this play at quarterback after starter Yafari Werts’ helmet came off, requiring him to come out for one play.
Both teams traded touchdowns to start the fourth quarter.
Ninety Six scored on a 43-yard run. Werts, after a 29 yard run, connected a play later with Jaylen Lindsay on a 31-yard pass reception for the touchdown with 7:06 left in the game to end the scoring for both teams after the Lozano kick.
Newberry had 323 yards of offense with 231 coming on the ground. Werts had 120 yards from 19 carries.
Sims’ 63 yards on 12 carries has him now 67 yards shy of having rushed for 1000 yards in his career.
Ninety Six had all but three of its 282 yards of offense from the ground.
Newberry will have its annual pink-out game this Friday with the hosting of Batesburg-Leesville. T-shirts are available at BJ Graphix on Wilson Road.
The Panthers are currently on a five game winning streak as they are 6-2 overall and in sole possession of first place in the region at 3-0,
“We just have to do a little better at stopping what they do,” said Strickland of Batesburg-Leesville. “We have to quit killing ourselves and being our own worst enemy.”