The third time was the charm for Newberry in the Class 2A Upper State Championship game against Fairfield Central, as the Bulldogs and their tenacious defense took down the Griffins 16-3 Friday night.
The two teams now have met three consecutive times in the Upper State Championship game, with the past two contests going to Fairfield Central.
“Everybody played great, even the scout team.” Newberry coach Phil Strickland said. “We wanted this game since we were beaten by them six or seven weeks ago. We stopped the big plays, and we were able to contain them.”
Newberry advances to next Friday’s state title game against Dillon, which will be held at River Bluff in Lexington.
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Throughout the night, the high-flying offense of Fairfield Central was stymied by Newberry as the Bulldogs allowed 179 yards.
The Griffins started the game by holding Newberry to an early three-and-out, but the ensuing 29-yard field goal from Isias Leon proved to be the only points Fairfield Central could muster.
After trading possessions, Newberry took the ball from their own 20-yard line and drove the length of the field while burning 10 minutes clock. The drive was aided by two key fourth-down conversions on the ground by running back Omar Sims.
The Bulldogs’ rushing attack was stopped on the 4-yard line setting up a 22-yard field goal by kicker Bryan Guevara. A delay of game penalty pushed the kick back 5 yards, but Guevaraknocked the kick home to tie the game at 3 with 25 seconds to go in the first half.
Fairfield Central gambled early on its first possession of the second half by going for it on fourth-and-one from its own 38. Quarterback Stanley McManus tried to push his way through on the left side of the line, but he was met by a gang of Bulldogs forcing the turnover on downs.
Newberry turned the opportunity into points four plays later when running back Xizabian Sims Boyd found a hole for a 20-yard touchdown run to make it 10-3 lead with 8:56 left in the third.
On the ensuing kickoff, Fairfield Central fumbled, giving Newberry the ball at the 30. Kalil Sheppard then found the end zone on an 11 yard run to give Newberry all the poits it would need.
The Griffins had a chance to cut into the lead on their next possession, but they couldn’t convert a fourth-and-eight from the 11.
Newberry sealed the victory when a McManus pass was intercepted by Sims Boyd late in the fourth.
“They played a good football game tonight,” Fairfield coach Demetrius Davis said. “My hats off to them, and I hope they go win it.”
Newberry avenged an earlier loss to the Griffins and will advance to the state championship game for the first time since 2006, their first year in Class 2A.
FC – Isias Leon 29 kick 4:49
NB – Gryan Guevara 27 kick 0:22
NB – Xizabian Sims Boyd 20 run (Geuvara kick) 8:56
NB – Kalil Sheppard 11 run (kick failed) 7:15
Passing: NB Yafari Werts 2-2 10 yards; FC Stanley McManus 4-13-1 100 yards
Rushing: NB Omar Sims 21-111; FC Nick Rikard 1-56
Receiving: NB Kalil Sheppard 2-10; FC Joseph Young 18-64