For more than 9 minutes, Newton marched down the field during a 17-play, 71-yard drive that took up a majority of the second quarter. But there was one notable part of the Railers’ best drive of the game: Derby stopped it.
The Panthers stood their ground just in time and turned what was then a tie game into a 45-14 blowout victory. Derby stopped Newton on fourth-and-10 on the Panthers’ 11-yard line, then manufactured a 15-play, 89-yard drive that did finish in the end zone for a 14-7 Derby lead just before halftime.
“That drive was what we want to do all the time,” Newton coach Nate Wollenberg said. “But we have to finish. We’re more consistent than we were earlier this season, but we still have to get better at our consistency.”
The momentum shift carried on in Derby’s favor in the second half. Derby’s offense scored on all four of its third-quarter possessions, while Newton threw the game away with two interceptions, a fumble and a turnover on downs – all in the third quarter.
“That’s always huge momentum for any high school team,” Derby coach Brandon Clark said. “When you start getting turnovers momentum goes in your favor, and that’s exactly what played into it tonight. When they turned the ball over we were able to capitalize in the second half.”
Derby’s offense managed just one scoring drive in its first three possessions. A quick three-and-out to start the game and a Curtis Whitten fumble 18 yards from the end zone prevented the visiting Panthers from establishing much of an early offensive threat.
“Our coach talked to us about starting fast and finishing hard, but today we came out slow,” Whitten said. “Coach gave us an inspirational speech, and we knew we had to come out and play Derby football in the second half.”
Whitten found redemption in a 29-yard touchdown run on Derby’s first possession of the second half. The score was set up by the first of two interceptions from senior defensive back Darreon Jackson.
Already with a 31-7 lead late in the third quarter, Jackson handled the scoring duties himself when he picked off a jump ball in the middle of the field and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown. Newton finished with two interceptions, two fumbles and two drives stopped on downs.
“When we made a mistake, they took advantage of it,” Wollenberg said.
In the middle of Newton’s disastrous third quarter, the team lost starting tailback Bradley Million, who remained down on the field for several minutes with an apparent neck injury after a 1-yard loss. The senior walked off the field but did not return to the game.
“He’s shook up,” Wollenberg said. “I think it was more of a sprained neck. His neck was very stiff and sore more than anything else, but we’ll probably know more tomorrow or in a couple of days.”
Jackson picked off Newton quarterback Jack Kingsley on the next play, sparking the surge that turned a one-touchdown lead into a blowout.
Derby quarterback Brady Rust completed 10 of 15 passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for a score and led the team with 80 rushing yards on 11 carries.
Jacob Moeder caught one of Rust’s touchdown passes and also delivered a 24-yard field goal attempt as part of Derby’s 24-point third quarter.
Newton sophomore Kade Remsberg rushed for a game-high 144 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.
N – Remsberg 53 pass from Kingsley (Fulmer kick)
D – Ray 18 pass from Rust (Moeder kick)
D – Moeder 5 pass from Rust (Moeder kick)
D – Whitten 29 run (Moeder kick)
D – Moeder 24 field goal
D – Rust 28 run (Moeder kick)
D – Jackson 68 interception return (Moeder kick)
D – Ray 2 run (Moeder kick)
N – Remsberg 58 run (Diaz kick)
Rushing — Derby, Whitten 12-67, Xanders 3-24, Ray 8-14, Dawdy 6-30, Rust 11-80. Newton, Million 8-20, Wagoner 6-46, Remsberg 15-144, Porter 4-27, Kingsley 5-7.
Passing — Derby, Rust 10-15, 102, Dawdy 2-3, 18. Newton, Kingsley 6-10, 46.
Receiving — Derby, Lemons 3-33, Igo 1-9, Ray 1-18, Moeder 3-30, Xanders 3-36, Whitten 1-(-6). Newton, Downey 3-6, Wagoner 1-14, Million 2-26.