West Orange, Newton combine for 866 total yards of offense and 112 points

Published 12:19 am Saturday, September 16, 2023

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It was an offensive showcase for the ages in West Orange Friday night as the Mustangs fell to the Newton Eagles, 58-54, at Dan R. Hooks Stadium.

Defense was hard to come by in the non-district contest as the teams combined for 866 total yards of offense and 112 points.

“We didn’t hold up my hand on defense at all,” Mustangs head coach Hiawatha Hickman said. “Newton had a good plan. They executed well. That’s part of the game, and we just fell short tonight.”

WO-S made a statement on the opening drive as quarterback Marcus Turner Jr. connected with receiver Taydren Perrault for a 50-yard touchdown — the ‘Stangs went up 7-0 early.

Newton took a 14-7 lead soon after, scoring twice in a two-minute span. Their first possession ended in a passing TD before a bad snap on a Mustangs punt set the Eagles up in the red zone.

The flurry of first-quarter scores continued as Khelvy Jefferson took an inside handoff and emerged from a swarm of bodies for a 49-yard gain. Tahj Amerson took a wildcat snap across the goal line as WO-S equalized, 14-14.

The Mustangs scored twice more in the first half. Facing fourth-and-two, Turner Jr. threw a short pass to Perrault, who took it 62 yards to the house to tie the game at 20-20. Andrew Cooper caught a 15-yard touchdown pass soon after to retake the lead.

At halftime, West Orange-Stark clung to a narrow 27-26 advantage.

The second half opened with four straight scoring drives as the Eagles and Mustangs continued the tug-of-war on the scoreboard. Key’Shawn Robinson and Turner Jr. each reached the end zone on rushes of 44 and 18 yards, respectively.

WO-S entered the fourth quarter trailing 42-40 with possession of the football. Turner Jr. ran it in for a 23-yard TD, bringing the ‘Stangs back ahead, 46-42.

Newton struck right back as KJ Porter broke loose for a 66-yard touchdown run to put the Eagles back ahead 50-46 following a two-point conversion.

The Mustangs strung together a 76-yard drive that took just two minutes. Turner Jr. threw a beautiful 25-yard TD ball to Perrault. Cooper hauled in the two-point attempt to put WO-S in front, 54-50.

The lead changes continued, though. The Eagles found the end zone one more time as Hieko Malone rushed for his fifth touchdown of the night. Porter converted for two, leaving Newton ahead 58-54 with just four minutes remaining.

Unfortunately, West Orange-Stark’s explosive offense finally ran out of gas on the final drive. An incomplete deep pass on fourth-and-16 resulted in a turnover on downs and the end of the game.

Turner Jr. finished with 205 passing yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 152 yards and two scores on the ground.

Perrault also finished with an impressive line of four catches for 155 yards and three TDs.

WO-S finished with nearly 200 more yards than Newton did. With that said, pass interference penalties in the end zone set the Eagles up near the end zone twice. Had those calls gone the other way, the Mustangs could very well have enjoyed a different outcome.

With that said, West Orange-Stark sits 2-2 thus far. The Mustangs begin district play with what should be an exciting home matchup vs. the Silsbee Tigers next week.

“We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and get ready for the next one,” Hickman said. “It doesn’t get any easier.”

— Written by Keagan Smith