The Newton Eagles escaped with a 38-35 victory over the Crockett Bulldogs in a hard-fought battle pitting two undefeated district rivals Friday night in Driskell Stadium.
The match-up had a playoff atmosphere with both highly ranked squads coming off blowout victories in their district openers and looking to stay unbeaten.
After receiving the opening kickoff, the Eagles broke a 54-yard run by Jaron Hanks to the Crockett 16 on their first offensive play. Quarterback Brock Barbay scored on a 1-yard plunge and then hit Antwaine Hunter for the 2-point comnversion to lead 8-0 with 8:36 in the first quarter.
Crockett had to travel just 28 yards after a short punt and good return by AJ Phillips to the Newton 28. De'Anthony Epps carried up the middle to the 1 yard line and quarterback Case Robinson plunged into the end zone on the following play. Kicker Ricardo Ramirez added the extra point to cut Newton's lead to 8-7 with 4:20 on the clock.
Starting their next possession at their own 25 yard line, the fast-striking Eagles needed just one play to reach the end zone as Hanks took the ball 75 yards to the end zone. A 2-point conversion failed and Newton settled for a 14-7 lead with 4:00 to go in the first frame.
The Bulldogs put together a 76-yard drive aided by two pass interference penalties against Newton. Robinson threw a pair of passes to Phillips for 10 and 7 yards, and hit D. Epps on an 8-yarder. After reaching the Eagle 18 yard line, Robinson escaped up the middle to the 1 yard line and scored on the following play. Ramirez tacked on the extra point to knot the score at 14-14 with :17 left in the first quarter.
A safety on the kickoff put the Bulldogs in front 16-14 with :07 left in the quarter when the Newton return man muffed the ball, which rolled into the end zone. He tried to run the ball out, but was tackled in the end zone for the safety.
The Bulldogs were hoping to extend their lead after Colby Davenport returned the kickoff to the Eagle 48, but an interception on the first play gave Newton the ball at Crockett's 42.
Hanks scored from six yards out and Barbay passed to Hunter for the 2-point conversion that put Newton back in front 22-16 with 9:04 in the second quarter.
After receiving the kickoff, the Bulldogs drove down the field and were threatening to score when a turnover killed the drive. Robinson connected with Phillips, who had the ball stripped away and recovered by Newton at its 9 yard line.
The Eagles made their way across midfield to the Bulldog 15 yard line where they coughed up the ball and Lucky Daniels recovered at the 9 yard line with 2:20 left in the first half.
Mixing runs and passes, the Bulldogs drove to the Eagle 10 yard line, where Ramirez booted a 27-yard field goal that cut Newton's lead to 22-19 with :07 left in the first half.
The Bulldogs received the second half kickoff, but were forced to punt. Newton went to work at its own 28 and later scored on a 1-yard blast by quarterback Barbay.
Late in the third quarter the Bulldogs reached the Eagle 15, but came away empty-handed when they turned the ball over on downs.
Early in the fourth quarter Newton was again threatening with a first down at the Bulldog 23 when the Crockett defense put the brakes on. A hard hit by Daniels knocked the ball loose and Colby Davenport recovered at the Bulldog 39.
Crockett drove to the Newton 25, but failed to capitalize before turning the ball back over on a fumble.
The Bulldog defense dug their claws into the turf, forcing a Newton punt that went out of bounds at the Eagle 35. Crockett's offense struck on the next play when Robinson connected with a wide-open Daniels streaking down the sidelines. Robinson then hit D. Epps for the 2-point conversion making it 30-27 with 6:33.
Newton opened up a 38-27 lead with 2:32 left on a 13 yard TD run by Hanks and conversion pass to Hunter.
After recovering an onside kick, the Bulldogs took over at the Newton 44. Robinson hit Xavion Dixon on a 32-yarder and then found Daniels in the end zone. Robinson ran for the 2-point conversion, making it 38-35 with 1:43 left.