To make a return trip to state, Newberry had to play its kind of game.
That involves grinding ahead, sitting on the lead and squeezing the life out of the opposition with power running, occasionally calling on the arm of Georgia Southern-bound quarterback Yafari Werts when the situation called for it.
By halftime Friday night against rival Fairfield Central, the Bulldogs had their lead, and soon enough the 24-10 win that sent them back to Benedict College for a Class 2A, Division I title game rematch with Dillon next week. The Griffins (11-2) had knocked off Newberry (11-2) by two points earlier in the year, and this win meant a little something more.
“For our seniors, it’s just carrying on the legacy man,” Werts said. “We were close last year, didn’t get it, but we’re trying to get it this year.”
Amir Abrams (81 yards, 21 carries) was the hammer for the Bulldogs on the ground, but Werts made the difference with touchdown passes of 55 and 17 yards to Zy Towns in the second half, plus several key third-down throws. The loss snapped Fairfield’s 11-game winning streak.
When Werts capped a clock-chewing drive with a 17-yard fade to Towns with 5:12 to go.
Yafari Werts: The future Division I player threw for 182 yards and three touchdowns on 10-of-13 passing. He also helped shoulder the load late on the ground with 39 yards on 13 carries.
Zy Towns: The senior Newberry receiver hauled in six passes for 130 yards, as Fairfield left him in man coverage.
13.8: How much more Newberry scored than the 10.2 average FC gave up on the season.
2-6: This is Newberry’s second win in the past six meetings. The Griffins eliminated the Bulldogs in the 2012 and 2013 playoffs, but Newberry returned the favor in Upper State the past two years.
THEY SAID IT
“We were looking for this game for six weeks. ... We know we’ve got our work cut out, but right now, we’re going to celebrate the Upper State championship.” – Phil Strickland, Newberry coach
“We just didn’t make the plays when we needed to make plays. Every times we play Newberry, we know it’s going to be a tough football game. They made plays and we didn’t. ... My hat’s off to those guys.” – Demetrius Davis, Fairfield Central coach
HOW THEY SCORED
N – Rosemond 23 pass from Werts (Luviano kick), 11:54
N – Luviano 23 FG, 0:40
FC – Gregory 27 FG, 8:45
N – Towns 55 pass from Werts (Luviano kick), 7:58
FC – McManus 30 run (Gregory kick), 4:19
N – Towns 17 pass from Werts (Luviano kick), 5:12
Rushing: N: Abrams 21-81, Werts 13-39, Wadsworth 3-4. Total: 37-124. FC: Suber-o’neal 14-59, McManus 13-19, Herndon 4-49, Sampson 1-0. Total: 32-127
Passing: N: Werts 10-13-0-182. FC: McManus 15-26-0-181.
Receiving: N: Towns 6-130, Riley 2-14, Luviano 1-23, Williams 1-15. FC: Butler 3-61, Herndon 3-40, Thompson 3-39, Sampson 3-22, Sparks 2-18, Bell 1-1.