Newton County Academy football coach Steve Nelson said running back Hunter Scarbrough was tailor-made for the eight-man football league.
Scarbrough showed that on Friday night when he accrued 353 total yards with 250 yards rushing and recorded 17 tackles on defense to lead the Generals to a 56-37 win over Wilkinson County Christian.
NCA improves to 5-0 on the season and will host Discovery Christian on Friday night for homecoming.
While not happy with everything, Nelson said his team needed a four-quarter game and responded to several challenges from the Rams.
“We needed a game like this, and I knew that it was coming,” Nelson said. “The last two weeks, our kids have had to play for four quarters. I was proud of the way they responded. I thought we came out ready to play and jumped out to an early lead, and then I thought we relaxed. Wilkinson then dotted our eyes and went up 19-14. They gave us some blows and jabs, but our kids responded every time, and I was proud of that.”
Wilkinson got the ball to start the game and were forced to punt. NCA then hit a big play on its second play from scrimmage as Scarbrough scored on a 72-yard touchdown run with 8:05 left in the first. Trace Evans ran in the two-point conversion and NCA led 8-0.
Wilkinson got the ball back and put together a long drive of its own, going 13 plays before turning the ball over on downs at the NCA 30.
NCA wasted little time on offense as Evans hit Paxton Russell on a 70-yard touchdown pass with 1:50 left the first quarter. The try for two failed, and NCA led 14-0.
The Rams responded with their first score as they broke free on a 59-yard touchdown run with 8:06 left in the second quarter to cut the lead to 14-7.
NCA punted on its next possession, and Wilkinson went marching again, this time going 80 yards in eight plays, scoring on a 9-yard run. The PAT failed and NCA held a slim 14-13 lead with 3:34 left in the second.
NCA was forced to punt again, and Wilkinson got a blocked punt to give the Rams a short field. Wilkinson then went 24 yards in four plays and scored on a 7-yard run with 51 seconds left in the first half. The try for two failed, and Wilkinson led 19-14.
But that lead was short lived as Scarbrough returned the ensuing kick 85 yards for a touchdown with 39 seconds left in the half. The try for two failed, and NCA led 20-19 at the half.
“We were only up one at the half, and it went back and forth,” Nelson said. “We only led by one going into the fourth and then scored 30 points in the fourth. We responded the way experienced teams are supposed to respond. This was good for our kids to have to play hard for four quarters.”
NCA got the ball to start the second half and got back to business on offense, going 51 yards in five plays as Scarbrough scored on a 22-yard run with 7:50 left in the third. The try for two failed and NCA led 26-19.
Wilkinson responded again with another long drive, going 57 yards in 10 plays and scoring on a 15-yard run with 2:47 left in the third. The try for two failed and NCA held a slim 26-25 lead.
NCA gave the ball right back on a fumble, but the NCA defense held strong and turned the Rams over on downs.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Evans hit Jackson Bunyard on a 36-yard touchdown pass with 9:54 left in the game. Evans ran in the two-point conversion and NCA led 34-25.
NCA got the ball back on an Amos Castillo fumble recovery. Evans struck quick as he hit Micah Garrison on a 31-yard touchdown pass. Garrison ran in the two-point conversion and NCA extended the lead to 42-25.
But Wilkinson responded with a 92-yard kickoff return to cut the lead to 42-31 with 8:18 left in the game.
NCA made it interesting again when they lost a fumble at midfield. Two plays later, Wilkinson scored on a 19-yard run to cut the lead to 42-37.
NCA recovered the onside attempt and hit a big play on fourth down as Evans connected with Bunyard on a 39-yard touchdown pass with 2:09 left in the game. The try for two failed and NCA led 48-37.
NCA got one last stop deep in their own territory, stopping the Rams at the NCA 12. Two plays later, Scarbrough got loose on a 90-yard run with 28 seconds left in the game. Colton Kelly ran in the two-point attempt frothy final margin of 56-37.
The Generals had 479 yards of total offense with 177 yard passing and 302 yards rushing. Scarbrough had a huge night with 250 yards rushing and three TDs on 14 carries. Evans also had 41 yards rushing on eight carries.
In the passing game, Evans was 5-of-9 for 177 yards with four TDs. Bunyard had two catches for 75 yards and two TDS while Russell had one catch for 70 yards.
On defense, Scarbrough also had a huge night with 12 solo tackles and 10 assists for 17 total tackles. Micah Garrison had eight solo tackles and six assists for 11 total tackles with three tackles for loss. Bo Smith had 7.5 tackles while Paxton Russell had 6.5 tackles with an interception. Amos Castillo had 6.5 tackles while Evans had six tackles. Reed Terrell and Marshall Wright had 5.5 tackles while Ty Thrash had 4.5 tackles. Cooper Savell had 3.5 tackles while Bunyard had 2.5 assists.