The Newberry Panthers (5-1) defeated the Hamilton County Trojans (1-4) in Friday night’s non-conference matchup with a final score of 54-23.
The Panthers looked to continue their four-game winning streak in front of a sold-out stadium on Homecoming night.
The Panthers wasted no time getting an early lead on the Trojans. Just 18 seconds into the first quarter, Newberry led 7-0 after senior QB Makai Johnson ran the ball in for a touchdown.
The Panthers scored a total of eight touchdowns, five of those coming in the first half. The Panthers found overall success in both their passing and rushing game, an improvement from previous weeks.
Senior WR Justen Crews made several big catches for the Panthers, including a diving grab in the end zone for a touchdown in the second quarter. Senior RB Kobe Delima had a pair of rushing touchdowns that helped advance the Panthers’ lead, including the final touchdown in the last two minutes of the game.
QB Makai Johnson said that the week 1 loss to Hawthorne motivated the team to keep working hard every day.
“We started off with that loss at the beginning of the season, so we don’t want that to happen again,” Johnson said.
Once again, defense proved to be a weak point for the Panthers. Missed tackles and reckless penalties allowed several opportunities for the Trojans to advance far downfield and score.
On the first play of the second half, Hamilton County’s Jaquan Strawder returned the punt for a touchdown after two missed tackles by Newberry.
“We need to tackle better,” said Edward Johnson, Newberry Head Coach. “We can’t give up big plays, that’s the takeaway from tonight.”
Mistakes aside, the Newberry defense was able to hold off Hamilton County through the end.
Lancaster and Thomas made two big tackles during the Trojans’ first possession, ultimately forcing a punt on fourth down. The kick was blocked by Newberry, sending the ball rolling towards the end zone and resulting in a Panthers touchdown.
Junior OLB Carson Price made the only interception of the night, picking off a high throw from Hamilton County’s QB.
Several members of the Newberry football team were honored during the halftime homecoming celebration. Senior QB Makai Johnson was awarded homecoming king.
The Newberry Panthers will face Dixie County at home next Friday, Oct. 16, at 7:30 p.m.