Not a halftime deficit, poor weather conditions or lack of a passing game could stop the Newport football team from keeping its perfect record intact.
The Cubs scored late in the third quarter to take a 13-12 lead and held on to win their sixth game in a row over Stayton.
“It feels amazing,” said senior running back/linebacker Addison Galen who finished with 130 yards and a touchdown. “Going 6-0, coming back after being down at halftime, it was huge. This feels amazing.”
But to get that feeling, adjustments, big plays, patience and a final defensive stand needed to take place after halftime.
Stayton scored twice in the second quarter to take the lead, both set up by big plays on third and fourth down. The first score was set up on a 4th and 17 when Stayton ran a fake punt to not only pick up the first down but move inside the red zone. Plays later, the Eagles would score, but missed the PAT, which proved to be costly.
The second came right before the half when a third and long turned into a big gain through the air that set the Eagles up inside the five-yard line. They’d punch it in and take a 12-7 lead with less than a minute left in the half.
“Their quarterback was shifty and made plays for them,” said senior running back/linebacker Addison Galen. “But really, it was just two plays that hurt us. Other than that we kept them pretty contained.”
“Our defense wasn’t really awake,” said senior defensive end Jimmy Acevedo. “The second half we woke up, came ready to play and hit them hard. They couldn’t do anything about it. Our defense hit them hard like usual.”
The defense would make a couple of key adjustments at halftime that paid dividends in the second half. Stayton was able to move the mostly on quarterback scrambles. The plan was for linebacker Lucas Fischer to spy Stayton’s quarterback Ben Rash to keep him contained. The plan worked, Rash didn’t find nearly as much open space to run in the second half.
“I think he did very well,” said head coach Rod Losier. “He’s a smart kid, if he does make a mistake he won’t make it again. We were are really lucky to have him tonight.”
To help the pass defense, Carson Martinson saw a lot of snaps in the second half at corner. While Stayton was driving to take a two-score lead, Martinson broke up two passes in the red zone, inducing one in the end zone on third down. Stayton came up empty on that possession.
In the half where neither offense could gain an inch, it was Tanner Stottlemyre that finally broke through with a 39-yard touchdown run where he broke one tackle then spun off another before outrunning the Eagle defense to the Endzone late in the third quarter.
The touchdown run put an end to an offensive drought for the Cubs, who hadn’t scored since the first drive of the game. The score gave the Cubs a one-point lead.
“It’s hard for the kids because there isn’t instant gratification,” Losier said. “It’s working, working, working, buying into that process and everybody doing their job. The more plays we have the more likely that the other team can make a mistake. It’s just being patient.”
After forcing a punt on the ensuing Stayton possession, the Cubs offense went back to work with just over nine minutes left on the clock. Newport proceeded to march down the field and burn nearly eight minutes off the clock before the drive stalled inside Stayton’s 30-yard line.
Having held Stayton scoreless in the second half, Newport needed one more stop. With just over a minute remaining, the Newport defense only needed four plays to kick the Eagles offense off the field and secure the game.
The man who made the plays wasn’t supposed to be on the field. Defensive end Jimmy Acevedo came up with two sacks, including the one on fourth down, and nearly intercepted a pass in the final defensive stand.
“I put myself in and said ‘I have to do something about this,’” Acevedo said. “Our starting D has to do something about this, and we did.”