One thing can often change the momentum of a football game.
On Friday night at Newton-Conover, a switch at quarterback made the difference. Adonis Hewitt took over for starter Cameron Shuford after three series with a 14-0 deficit.
“Coach put me in, and we were down,” Hewitt said. “I held my head high, and he told me we could win. I just came in and took over.”
Hewitt led the Red Devils’ offense to four straight touchdowns and a 28-21 win Friday over the East Lincoln Mustangs. It was the Red Devils’ fourth straight win over the Mustangs, and the second straight season-opening win against East Lincoln.
The senior quarterback ran seven times for 34 yards and completed 3 of 4 passes for 42 yards.
Thirty of those yards came in the fourth quarter on a pass to Shuford. The long pass setup a 3-yard run by Octavius Harden for the Red Devils’ final touchdown.
Harden led the Red Devils’ rushing attack with 167 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. Harden scored his first touchdown with 8:15 seconds left in the second quarter and cut the Mustangs’ lead to 14-7. Harden almost scored as time expired in the first half when he slashed through the Mustangs’ defense for 63 yards, but he was tackled at the East Lincoln 17.
Harden led Newton-Conover’s offense, but fullback Jamal Coates carried it. Coates took over in the second half with 65 yards rushing and a touchdown on 12 carries. He finished the game with 93 yards on 15 carries and the score.
“We ran our fullback many times tonight,” Newton-Conover coach Nick Bazzle said. “When you can 4-, 5-, and 6-yard teams to death, you have to give credit to your fullback.”
The Newton-Conover line on both sides of the ball answered a lot of the questions coming into the season opener. The offensive line was called for one false start in the first half, and the defense did not jump offsides.
“I’ll sleep better if we stay healthy,” Bazzle said. “But we got off the ball well, and the kids were not getting stood up and catching, we actually moved the ball.”
The defense was a mix for the Red Devils on Friday. It struggled to stop speedy East Lincoln quarterback Patrick Rendleman, but it also came up with interceptions when needed. Newton-Conover’s Jervasse Herrin picked off Rendleman in the end zone delaying East Lincoln from a 14-0 lead, and Shuford’s second-half interception and long return setup Newton-Conover’s final touchdown
East Lincoln’s errors potentially cost it 17 points in the loss. The Mustangs had a touchdown pass intercepted, dropped another touchdown pass, and missed a field goal. Mustangs head coach Mike Byus said after the game his team needed to capitalize on opportunities like that in order to win.
Rendleman led the Mustangs with 144 yards rushing on 18 carries and two touchdowns. The junior also 12-of-18 passing for 78 yards and two interceptions. Marcus McDowell scored East Lincoln’s first touchdown 4:24 into the game, and he finished with 36 yards on seven carries.