Photo by Jerry Jackson
Lovejoy running back Travis Custis (No. 22) scored three touchdowns in the ninth-ranked Wildcats 51-6 win over Newton on Friday at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
HAMPTON — Leave it to the Lovejoy football team to go and change the question just when visiting Newton thought it had all the answers.
The Wildcats overcame a sluggish start by picking up the tempo and erupting for 34 consecutive points in the decisive second period to waltz to a 51-6 Region 2-AAAAAA decision Friday at Twelve Oaks Stadium.
Quarterback Alejandro Bennifield accounted for 156 of his 188 passing yards and all three touchdown passes in the second period alone as Lovejoy turned to its hurry-up offense and erupted from an early slumber to punish the overmatched Rams.
The quicker pace denied the Rams the chance to substitute effectively, while also giving the hosts better opportunities to exploit favorable match-ups in the Newton secondary with their tall, athletic receiving corps.
“Once you start putting those points on the board, you start getting a little hungry,” Wildcats coach Al Hughes said. “Every point starts tasting pretty good.”
The Rams fell to 3-5 overall, 3-1 in the region, after yielding 48 consecutive points to obliterate their early 6-3 lead.
Bennifield, a smooth Tennessee-Chattanooga commitment, accounted for most of the damage, completing 11 of 18 passes before retiring in the third period.
Wide receiver JuMichael Ramos was his favorite target, hauling in all of his seven passes for 134 yards and two scores in the first half as the Wildcats stormed back from a 3-0 deficit to start the second period. Tailback Travis Custis added two of his three scores on the ground before the break as Lovejoy improved to 5-0 in region play and 8-1 overall. The Wildcats, who will be off this coming week before facing Alcovy on Nov. 9, have now outscored their region competition 260-9 this season.
They won handily, despite being whistled for 16 penalties for 128 yards.
“When we get going,” Ramos said, “we can be tough to beat. Sometimes we feel like the only people who can beat us are ourselves.”
Newton took the early 6-3 lead on James Hardeman’s 6-yard scoring scamper along the left side with 4:01 left in the opening period.
The Wildcats answered minutes later, when Bennefield connected with Auburn tight end commitment Arshad Jackson on a beautiful fade route for a 17-yard touchdown that gave Lovejoy the lead for good at 10-6 with just under 11 minutes left in the half. Thus began the onslaught.
That was more than enough for an opportunistic Lovejoy defense that forced five turnovers, including Tyrell Brown’s 25-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown late in the third period that closed the scoring.