By Rory Sharrock
The first quarter of Friday night's game between the visiting Newnan Cougars and Riverdale Raiders looked more like a track meet than a football game.
It was real close after 12 minutes of play with Newnan up 13-9, however, the final result turned into a runaway victory for the No. 3-ranked (Class AAAAA) Cougars (6-0, 5-0) as they blew out Riverdale (3-3, 3-2) 44-9 at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
"I think they (Riverdale) have some good guys and they did some things that really hurt us. They did a good job with their guys, but then our guys came on and played real tough like they usually do," said Newnan head coach Robert Herring.
The Raiders jumped out of the starting blocks with a burst of speed following a 69-yard touchdown sprint by Deaunte Trigger on their opening possession and fifth play from scrimmage. Riverdale, however, missed the extra point and led 6-0.
Not to be outdone, Newnan quickly answered the bell when Keandreas Wynn dashed for a 39-yard score - three plays after his team received the kick off. The Cougars converted their extra point to go up 7-6.
On the ensuing possession, Trigger found another seam and took off 75 yards before he was tackled at the 5-yard line. But Newnan's defense manned up and made Riverdale settle for a 35-yard field goal. This kick, with 5:15 remaining in the first quarter, would be the last time the Raiders held a lead and their final points of the game.
Newnan bounced right back as Wynn ran circles around the defense on his way for a 64-yard touchdown and a 13-6 lead. The gifted senior showed why he's one of the premiere running backs in the state as he rushed for 181 yards on 12 carries with three scores.
"I didn't expect it to be like this, but it turned out pretty good and that's what we needed," Wynn said. "This is our year - that's all I can say. This is our year. We're taking it all the way."
The Cougars posted 10 points in the second quarter courtesy of a 37-yard field goal by Sam Taylor and 10-yard touchdown run by quarterback Russell Powell to go ahead 23-9 at the half.
Newnan had the ball first after the break and wasted no time as Wynn recorded his third score of the game following a 38-yard run, capping off a 4-play 72-yard drive. His run was a painful blow for the Raiders, but the dagger came after they managed to drive down to the Cougar 20-yard line, only to stall and turn the ball over on downs.
"We had our opportunities early in the first half. We got in the red zone twice and came away with no points. When you're playing a team like Newnan, you can't come away with no points," said Riverdale head coach Nick Davis. "We felt like we had a good game plan. They got some big plays and it just snowballed from there."
The Cougars scored 14 additional points in the fourth behind Powell's arm and legs. He tossed a 43-yard strike to Alan Bonner and later broke through a gang of would-be tacklers for a 52-yard scramble. He finished the night going 6-of-14 for 115 yards and one touchdown.
Newnan has steam-rolled over the competition in 2008, winning by an average margin of 37 points per game. Riverdale's nine-point output was the first time an opponent has scored on the Cougars since Lovejoy's six-point effort on Sept. 12.
"In the beginning of the game, we executed and hit them in the mouth.
Then things changed toward the second half. We had a change of emotions and they just got the best of us," said Raiders' senior wide receiver Hakeem Smith.