The South Cougars headed for Newton on Friday hoping to end the regular season on a high note after a 1-6 start and boy, they put on a show for the better part of four quarters to derail the hosts at Fischer Field, 47-24.
Both offenses failed to get on track until late in the first quarter. After a short Railer punt with kick-catch interference, the Cougars took over at Newton’s 28. Two plays later, quarterback Terran Galloway hit wide receiver Caleb Copeland in stride for a 26-yard touchdown pass. The PAT failed and South led 6-0.
On the ensuing drive, Newton quickly advanced into the redzone but settled for a 20-yard Xander Valdavia field goal to make it 6-3 two minutes into the second quarter.
The Cougars came back with an impressive drive led by running back Brandt Cox, who piled on yards after contact. He capped the possession with a 10-yard TD run and a 13-3 lead for South.
The Railers would again reach the redzone, only to have the drive stall. This time, a 35-yard field goal attempt missed the mark.
South would finish the first half with another touchdown drive as Galloway ran off right tackle untouched from six yards out for a 20-3 lead. Newton was able to advance into the redzone for a third time in the half, but the clock ran out and the Cougars took the 17-point advantage into halftime.
Matters only got better for the visitors as they increased the lead utilizing all three phases of the game. First, Galloway found Colin Schreiber wide open in the endzone thanks to a busted coverage and South led 27-3 with 6:29 left in the third quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Cougars forced a fumble and it was Owen Bulleigh with a 15-yard scoop and score. Thirteen seconds later, South’s lead was 34-3.
Just a few minutes later, it was Colby Bulleigh making a big play as he picked off Railer QB Ben Schmidt, returning the INT 65 yards for a touchdown to make it 41-3 with 3:11 left in the third.
To Newton’s credit, they tried to make things interesting with back-to-back TD passes from Schmidt to wideout Peyton Maxwell thirteen seconds apart to trim the deficit to 41-17.
But, the Cougars mounted one more scoring drive as Galloway fired a 6-yard TD strike on third-and-goal to Copeland for Caleb’s second TD catch of the night. Newton would end the scoring on one more Schmidt to Maxwell TD connection.
An interesting way this one came to finish. The Cougars led by as many as 38, won by 23, yet were out-gained unofficially 427-292. Much of the Railers’ output came in the second half with the big deficit, plus, South executed on both sides of the ball in the redzone, particularly in the first half. Galloway finished with three TD passes and 221 passing yards plus a rushing score. Cox had 80 yards on the ground for South, who finishes the regular season at 2-6 while Newton finishes at 3-5.
Official Week 9 playoff pairings should be known by Saturday.