Going into Friday’s game at Newberry High’s Mike Ware Field, the Ninety Six High Wildcats had gone 34 consecutive regional games without losing by at least 21 points.
While the 2004 Bulldogs handed the Wildcats a 29-point defeat, 52-23, the 2012 Newberry team celebrated its Pink-Out Awareness night with a 42-21 victory over the Wildcats to improve to 5-3 on the season and 2-1 in the region.
The Wildcats drop to 3-5, 1-2.
For the first time since the 2004-06 seasons, Newberry won its third straight senior night as they scored 28 first half points, the fourth time they’ve accomplished this feat this season.
The Bulldogs won the coin toss for the second straight week and while they went on a three-and-out last week at Abbeville, Newberry scored its second fastest touchdown of the season to start a game against Ninety Six.
With Khalil Sheppard not dressing due to a slight concussion from the Abbeville game, Chad Davis led the Bulldogs out of the gate for the first time since the opening game with Ware Shoals.
Needing only three plays and 58 seconds to cover the needed 61 yards as a team, Tyon Williams’ second carry of the night from 45 yards out saw the senior scoring his 37th career touchdown before Jose Lozano converted his first of six consecutive PATs on the evening.
Ninety Six worked its way down to the Newberry 45 in seven plays but quarterback Ryan Booker threw his first of two interceptions of the game, this time to Cohanskie Goodson as the senior returned it 28 yards to the Wildcats’ 39.
Newberry fumbled two plays later, their first of five turnovers in the game.
“We had too many turnovers,” said Newberry head coach Phil Strickland. “It’s hard to beat good football teams when you turn the ball over.”
Ninety Six’s Joseph Chaney caught a 59-yard pass from quarterback Ryan Booker two plays later as this touchdown reception and Grant Dickey’s PAT knotted the score at seven-apiece with 5:44 still left in the opening stanza.
Williams got the call two straight times on Newberry’s next possession as his 52-yard run and Lozano’s PAT with 4:58 left on the first quarter clock would begin Newberry’s run of 28-unanswered points.
Five-of-the-next six possessions of- the-game saw some form of turnover.
Malik Glymph recovered a Ninety Six fumble , returning it 27 yards from the end zone.
Three plays later, however, Davis’ pitch back to Williams came flying out of his hands instead as a mad scramble for it resulted in Ninety Six recovering the loose ball 23 yards from the original line of scrimmage.
Two sacks and a penalty forced the Wildcats to punt to end the first quarter on a fourth-and -21.
Davis was intercepted on the first play of the second quarter.
Deciding to go for it on fourth-and-inches, the Wildcats seemed to have gotten it after a run up the middle.
After the ball was spotted and the chains were stretched out for the measurement, Ninety Six came out about two feet short.
Williams carried the ball for 13 yards at the 9:26 mark but would have to be helped off the field after an ankle injury.
The turnover bug was still rampant with Goodson fumbling over to Ninety Six two plays later.
The Bulldogs seemed to have held Ninety Six after a three-and-out as they sent the punting unit out on a fourth-and-three with about seven minutes to go in the half.
Ninety Six must have watched Newberry’s video of the Saluda game as the Wildcats pulled off the exact same play as the Bulldogs did that night to garner the first down.
Being held to another three-and-out after this, Ninety Six punted at the 4:49 mark.
Davis went to the air twice to Tovaris Cureton on Newberry’s next possession as the senior caught a 35-yard pass in double coverage, while his next reception was from 18 yards out for the touchdown and the 21-7 score with 2:41 left in the half.
“Tovaris had a good ballgame on both sides of the ball,” said Strickland of Cureton. That pass route is one that “we work on a lot, but we do not hardly ever throw it.”
Newberry’s offense never saw the field for the duration of the first half despite the fact that Ninety Six had the ball on two different possessions, which ended badly.
With just over a minute to go, Cureton intercepted the Ninety Six pass at his own 19 as he raced untouched 81 yards for the touchdown.
On the final play of the first half, Malik Glymph made a 12-yard quarterback sack.
Newberry had 211 yards of offense in the first half while Ninety Six had 169.
Williams’ seven carries resulted in 128 yards but he would only see two carries in the entire second half.
Ninety Six had its seventh consecutive possession to end without a score as they started the second half with a three-and-out.
Williams’ first carry was nullified by a Newberry penalty but his second carry of the second half two plays later, saw him having to be helped off the field after discomfort with his ankle again with 9:19 left in the quarter.
Keeping the ball on the ground for the next five plays, Eric Gallman scored his first touchdown of the year as the Shrine Bowl selectee took it in from 12 yards out one second inside the seven minute mark and the 35-7 score.
Newberry was penalized five yards for being offsides but from his own 35, Jaquon Louden raced along for the Newberry sideline as he seemed to have been knocked out-of-bounds at about the one while stretching the ball out for the touchdown, fumbling it in the process which was recovered by Jaylen Lindsay.
Conversing though on what they each had seen, the officials agreed that it was indeed a touchdown with 6:13 left in the quarter as the score was now 35-14 after the PAT.
Jack Huggins came in to guide the Bulldogs on this drive but it ended with their fifth turnover of the night with an interception with 23.3 seconds left in the third quarter.
Going to the air just one time, Ninety Six ended their eight plays, 54-yard drive with a keeper by Hunter Watson as there was now a little uneasiness on the Newberry sideline after their 14 unanswered points with still 9:29 left in the game.
Kyon Wicker recovered the onside kick for Newberry before Huggins, like his first cousin Davis did earlier in the evening, threw a touchdown pass, this time to Jalin Alexander four plays later as the scoring ended by both teams with 7:48 left in the game.
“Jack did a good job throwing it in there,” said Strickland of the touchdown pass.”
Cureton made his second interception of the night as he returned it 23 yards, but a late hit out-of-bounds, placed the Bulldogs just inside mid-field.
Yafari Werts, the third Newberry quarterback of the evening, led the Bulldogs down to the seven yard line as the game ended.
Newberry ended with 446 yards of offense, their highest output of the season.
“I think our offensive line played a whole lot better than they have played the past few weeks,” noted Strickland.
Williams had 141 of Newberry’s 309 total yards of rushing on eight carries.
Tysheen Nance collected 71 yards on 12 carries while Omar Sims garnered 61 yards on 10 carries.
Davis had an 11 yard keeper, Gallman had a 12 yard carry, Werts had a 6-yard keeper, and Jaylen Caldwell ran four yards.
Cureton caught three passes for 2 yards, Jalin Alexander had two receptions for 52 yards, Jaylen Reeder got 13 yards on two catches while Kyon Wicker made a 10 yard grab.
Newberry will travel to Batesburg-Leesville on Friday as both teams sport identical 5-3 overall records and are each 2-1 in regional action.
“Batesburg-Leesville is getting after it and are playing a good hand of football,” said Strickland. “We have a challenge on our hands.”
The two teams have split the last four meetings as they are each 1-1 on their home field.