ANDERSON- The #3 Newton Eagles had their hands fuller than anticipated with the Anderson-Shiro Owls Friday, Nov. 8, as they escaped with a 32-18 win.
The win clinched an eighth-consecutive district championship for the two-time defending state-champion Eagles (9-1, 5-0).
It was the Owls (8-2, 3-2) that looked like defending champs, throwing the first blows of the game jumping out to a 12-0 lead.
The Owl attack began through the air with a 15-yard pass from Cole Werner to Chad Shead who made a beautiful grab in the right corner of the endzone.
Anderson-Shiro’s pesky defense delivered blows of its own preventing Newton’s high-powered offense from sniffing the goal line in the opening-quarter. Zacarrius Haynes who has been dominant regardless of which defense he lines up against found a seam through the middle of the Eagle defense and jetted 75-yards for the score to increase the Owl lead 12-0.
Newton started settling in defensively in the second quarter allowing its offense an opportunity to attack. James Sylvester hauled in a 39-yard pass from Nate Williams, but the conversion failed.
Another big pass from Williams, this time good for 18 yards to Robbie Phillips, set up the Eagles second score, a 2-yard run by DeAnthony Gatson. Zach Gullery ran in the conversion to give Newton a 14-12 advantage heading into halftime.
“I was so proud of the way we came out,” explained Owl head coach Brad Hodges. “Nobody really gave us a shot outside of our locker room, but the boys weren’t hearing that. They worked all week with the idea that we’re as good as these guys and they came out and really pressed to show it in that first half. We kind of rocked them early but you knew it was going to be a slugfest all the way to the end.”
Newton tacked onto their lead 20-6, in the third with a 9-yard connection from Williams to Dominique Seastrunk. The Eagles scored first in the fourth to build a 26-6 advantage, on a Gatson 9-yard run.
Anderson-Shiro refused to say uncle and answered with Shead’s second touchdown reception from 55-yards out to pull within eight, 26-18.
“Look where these guys came from and where we started,” said Hodges of his team. “Don’t tell these guys what they can’t do because they’ve proved people wrong for three years now and they kind of have that chip on their shoulder and with this game we got a lot better. We grew up a lot and we look forward to utilizing that next week.”
A touchdown that was called back helped Newton stop the Owls and take over on downs. The Owls regained the ball again, but Newton forced another turnover-on-downs.
Gatson ran in his third touchdown on the night with 1:39 remaining, to finalize the score 32-18.
Newton squares off against the New Diana Eagles, 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 14, at Roughrider Stadium in Center. Anderson-Shiro faces the Daingerfield Tigers, 7:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 15, at Lion Stadium in Kaufman.