WINNSBORO — Playing in their first playoff overtime game since 2005, three straight incomplete passes ended the Newberry High School’s football season Friday night in Winnsboro as the Fairfield Central Griffins won the AA Division 1 Upper State championship with a 28-21 victory over the Bulldogs.
Newberry ends its season with a record of 10 wins and three losses, the sixth time in school history their football team has won at least 10 games in a season and the first since 2006.
For the first time since the Mid-Carolina game four weeks ago, Newberry found itself trailing during the game after Griffins quarterback DeAndre Belton threw a 28-yard pass to Kewaun Squirewell for the touchdown just under six minutes into the game.
Newberry’s first three offensive possessions ended in turning the ball over as a first down fumble was bookended by two punts, including one with 54 seconds left in the first quarter.
On the first play of the second quarter, Belton hooked up with Squirewell again, this time from 37 yards out for the touchdown and the 14-0 score after Compton Walker converted his second PAT of the night.
Being as close to 100 percent since his injury during the Ninety Six game, Tyon Williams gave Newberry its first points of the night when he scored from 31 yards out on a third-and-six situation with 10:47 left in the first half. It was his 21st for the season and 41st for his high school career.
Jose Lozano converted all three of his extra point attempts on the night.
The Griffins marched 53 yards in six plays and would be stopped at the Newberry 13. Walker’s 30-yard field goal was wide left with 7:54 left until the break.
Forty five yards in Fairfield Central penalties aided Newberry on its next possession as an 80-yard, nine play drive ended with a one-yard carry up the middle by Tysheen Nance with 2:49 left to end the half. The score was then tied at 14 points apiece.
Two plays before this touchdown run, Williams saw his high school career come to an end when he had to be helped off the field.
The Griffins were held to a three and out before both teams traded interceptions to end the first half.
Fairfield Central had 186 yards of offense compared to Newberry’s 117.
In the previous 13 games this season, Newberry had scored on its first offensive possession on at least its first offensive possession in one half.
That streak, which dated back even to the last four games of the 2011season, came to a close as the Bulldogs punted to start the second half.
Using the Newberry play from the Saluda game, Fairfield Central attempted a fake punt but they were stopped short.
Three different quarterbacks saw action during this next possession with Khalil Sheppard and Yafari Werts having to come off the field for a short time due to injuries, while Chad Davis would lead the Bulldog campaign also in this drive.
The biggest play on this 48-yard drive came on a third-and-seven when Sheppard under heavy pressure threw a 16-yard pass to Tovaris Cureton who was able to keep his feet inbounds for the first down.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Newberry scored its 21st straight point with a nine-yard keeper from Werts for the touchdown.
The Newberry crowd, after filling up the permanent bleachers and spilling over into some temporary ones set up for the game, started pumping new life into the game with their cheering as Newberry had its first lead of the evening at 21-14.
After a trade of punts, Fairfield Central notched the score up with 3:59 left in the game after Damien Bell ended a 68-yard 12 play drive with a four-yard run.
Each team punted on their final offensive possession of the evening and the game went into overtime.
Newberry won the coin toss and elected to go on defense as both teams had four downs to score from 10 yards out.
Bell needed two plays to cover this yardage with his touchdown coming from a yard out.
Prior to the three incomplete passes, Newberry was sacked for a one-yard loss.
The Griffins, who improved to 11-3 on the season with the win, finished with 348 yards of offense, including 198 through the air.
Newberry ended with 227, with only 26 of them coming through the air which were caught by Cureton.
Williams and Werts led the Newberry rushing with 94 yards apiece.
Nance accumulated 10 yards while Eric Gallman ran for eight yards, including a huge fourth down run that kept a scoring drive active.
Omar Sims ran for four yards while Davis, Sheppard and Jalin Alexander ended the evening with zero yards.
The 2012 team scored a school football record of 432 points this season as well as being the first Newberry team to score at least 20 points in every ballgame.
This year’s senior class included Cureton, Jamal Gadsden, Dominique Quiller, Alexander, Perry Able, Davis, Clayton Yoder, Jimmy Willingham, Tim Martin, Cohanskie Goodson, Greg Bowers, Jaylen Reeder, Cannon Griffith, Tyon Williams, Gallman, Darien Richard-Jones, Vincent Cameron, Malik Glymph, Trahjare Reeder, Cal Lever, Jamarcus Wicker and Kyon Wicker.
“We are really, really proud of these seniors,” said Newberry head coach Phil Strickland. “They’ll look back in a few years and realize just how fine of a senior season and career they had. We are really going to miss them.”
Bobby McLeod was the senior trainer for the team.