By Jeffery Armstrong
Missed opportunities and a superb effort by the Newnan Cougars defense helped Newnan defeat the Mundy's Mill Tigers 20-6 Friday night at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
The Region 4-AAAAA contest was close in the first half as both defenses played well. Newnan (4-2, 2-0) led Mundy's Mill (1-4-1, 0-2) by the score of 3-0 at halftime.
Mundy's Mill harassed Newnan's standout quarterback Tyler Horne in the first half, limiting him to 4 of 13 passes for only 64 yards and an interception. Newnan senior running back Mark King took up the slack for Horne, rushing for 52 yards on Newnan's first possession which led to Kyle Sherman's 37-yard field goal with 8:41 left in the first quarter.
Mundy's Mill had two opportunities to tie the game at 3 in the second quarter. Newnan fullback Sherod Arnold fumbled and Tigers linebacker Afu Okosun recovered the ball at the Cougars 32-yard line. After Tigers quarterback Dwayne Sullivan's nine-yard run gave his team first-and-goal at the eight, Newnan's defense held and Mundy's Mill tried a 27-yard field goal. The attempt was wide left and Newnan held its lead.
Tigers free safety Kerry Leonard intercepted a Horne pass with 3:04 left in the second quarter and returned it to the Cougar 47. Sullivan had another big run on that drive, but the Newnan defense harassed him as he dropped back to pass, forcing another field goal try, this time from 40 yards out. It missed and Newnan took its slim lead into the half.
The third quarter started well for Mundy's Mill but then it turned disastrous. Tigers cornerback Eric Lewis intercepted Horne at the Tigers 5-yard line, but three plays later, Sullivan was tackled in the end zone and fumbled. Newnan's Santez Mays recovered the football for a touchdown and the extra point made it 10-0.
That play seemed to energize Horne, who drove the Cougars 70 yards in five plays on Newnan's next possession. He ended the drive with a 29-yard TD pass to wide receiver Brandon Johnson for a 17-0 lead. Horne, a senior who was playing with torn ligaments in his right (passing) thumb, finished the game 11 of 27 for 158 yards, three interceptions and a touchdown.
In contrast, the Newnan defense held Mundy's Mill to negative yardage in the third quarter. Sullivan had seven carries for 69 yards in the game, but he was 9 of 29 passing for only 71 yards. He was constantly harassed and didn't have any time to set and throw. The Cougar defense also held Tigers running back Erroll Wynn to 34 yards on 17 carries. Wynn's longest run of the game was a 16-yard TD burst with 7:17 left in the fourth quarter to make the score 17-6.
On Newnan's next possession, Horne almost let Mundy's Mill back in the game, throwing an errant pass that was dropped by Lewis with no one in front of the Tiger defender but the end zone.
Instead, two plays later, Horne completed a 10-yard pass on third-and-eight and Newnan kicked another field goal for the final 20-6 margin.
Linebacker McKinley Jenkins had a sack and an interception for Mundy's Mill.