By Bob Jones
Special to the Daily
It was a cat fight in Region 2-AAAAA.
The Newnan Cougars swarmed onto the Luella Lions' field, and to the visiting cats went the spoils of victory.
Behind the punishing first-half running of Chris Robinson, the slashing runs of quarterback Lendell Arnold, and a solid defensive effort, the Cougars overcame the Lions 19-7. Newnan improves to 3-1 in 2-AAAAA and 4-3 overall, while the Lions fall to 0-4 and 2-5, virtually eliminated from any playoff hopes.
The opening kickoff gave fans a glimpse of excitement to come when Luella recovered an onside kick in Cougar territory.
The Lions gained one first down before sophomore quarterback Jared Hendrics tossed three incompletions.
Punter Grant Palmer had trouble throughout the game, and the 15-yard punt didn't pin Newnan very deep.
Newnan then drove to the Luella 13, where the Lions defense tightened, and Patrick McAlpin booted a 30-yard field goal.
In the second quarter, after an exchange of fumbles and two Luella possessions that gained a total of 12 yards, Robinson took over the game.
Five carries for 60 yards in an 85-yard drive, and he capped it with a 22-yard romp to the house for a 10-0 Newnan lead at the half.
Luella had a chance after Alvin Hill returned the kickoff 47 yards to the Cougar 47, but Palmer's subsequent 41-yard field goal try was short.
The Lions' defense rose up and stopped Newnan on the Luella 23 in the third, but trouble was about to put the game out of reach. Trevor Tanner, who led the Cougars defense with eight tackles, caught a tipped Hendrics pass and brought the ball back to the Luella two.
Two offsides penalties on Luella made the QB sneak by Arnold a foregone conclusion, and Newnan led 17-0.
Early in the fourth Luella's defense again earned a stop, but McAlpin's punt was downed inside the Luella one. The Lions were ninety-nine and one-half yards from the end zone with eleven minutes to play. It was at this point that Luella fans got a glimpse into the future of Lions football as Hendrics masterfully directed the offense down the field. Luella drove the entire length of the field for a thrilling 99-plus-yard touchdown drive. Hendrics completed eight of nine passes in the drive, executing the rollout option plays to perfection. Three times Luella converted on fourth down, the last time for the score, a 14-yard TD strike to Reise McDaniel.
The second on-side kick was not recovered, but the Lions' defense stopped Newnan for one last chance. It was not to be, as Hendrics was called for intentional grounding from the end zone on the first play after the punt, and the Cougar safety ended the scoring.
Robinson played just one play of the second half, but carried 13 times for 117 yards in the first half for Newnan. Arnold carried 13 times for 65 yards.
For Luella, the offense sputtered except for the amazing fourth quarter drive.
The offensive story was Hendrics, and most of the story was on that one drive. Hendrics was 12 of 24 for 109 yards, with one TD and one interception. The Lions solid defensive effort was led by Martell Williams (7 tackles), Hill (6), and Tevin Jones (6).