Ludlow wide receiver Ethan Powell took the pass from Jackson Mays on the left side on a 4th-and-goal from the Newport 11 and darted toward the end zone where he met Newport defensive back Jake Porter.
The two tussled knowing what was at stake. Porter made the tackle two yards shy of the end zone allowing the visiting Newport Wildcats to escape with a 16-14 non-district win.
Newport (4-1) has won four in a row and Ludlow (1-3) has dropped three straight after opening the season with a win.
“I don’t know what was going through my mind. I was just trying to stop the touchdown honestly,” Porter said. “I’m glad I made the play to help us win. I’ve never done something like that before.”
This one turned into a defensive battle for the most part as the defensive lines continuously penetrated the backfields and blew up plays. Newport made 3.5 sacks and Ludlow recorded three sacks. Newport freshman Sean Hurry led everyone with two sacks and returned a Ludlow fumble 15 yards.
“I think our kids were saying in the huddle it’s all about our preparation and how we do things in practice,” said Ryan Hahn, Newport head coach. “They capitalized on our mistakes so a lot of what we have to do this week is watch the film and correct a lot of mistakes. We’re backed up. They’re driving and we have to make a stand and we do.”
Ludlow outgained Newport, 263-171, most notably on the ground, 199-11. Ludlow sophomore Dameyn Anness led all rushers with 147 yards and Powell had four catches for 53 yards and an interception on defense.
“You have to be able to battle through adversity. We did battle some adversity,” said Woody McMillen, Ludlow head coach. “I was really pleased with how we played defensively. They played hard and flew around the ball. Our offense showed signs of life too.”
But Newport intercepted four Ludlow passes to go with Hurry’s fumble recovery. Newport scored all 16 points off Kendall Buck-Barber’s two interceptions, including a pick-six with 2:51 left in the third quarter to put the Wildcats up 16-6.
“I sat on (the slant route),” Buck-Barber said. “Before the game, I watched film so I knew exactly what formation they were in. I’d seen it come across so I jumped in there and got the ball.”
Newport kept a number of drives alive with big catches. Lee completed 14-of-28 passes for 160 yards. Kayveion Sharp and Rodzion Thompson had four catches each for 52 and 34 yards, respectively, and Landon Stacks had three catches for a team-high 56 yards.
Ludlow found success running quick dives to Aiden Smith-Baxley in the fourth quarter. He finished a drive with 9:13 left in the fourth quarter to trim the Newport lead to 16-12.
Newport’s defense made several key plays after that point to hold on for the win, including two red zone stops. Sharp picked off a pass and then Porter’s stop at the two held off the Panthers.
Ludlow had one last chance after a Wildcats safety, but Amontae Lowe intercepted a pass to seal the win.
On its first possession, Anness broke free for a 63-yard run in Ludlow’s Pistol formation. On third down, he caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Mays to put Ludlow up 6-0 with 8:53 left in the first quarter after Newport blocked the point-after kick.
The Wildcats took the lead for good with a drive in the second half culminating when Lee found Sharp on a crossing route then completed the two-point conversion pass to Stacks to put the Wilcats up 8-6 at halftime.
“That was a big play,” Lee said. “Before we called the play, (Sharp and I) already had communication on the play. We told the coaches and we made that play happen. We saw it was going to be open across the middle.”
Newport has the daunting task of traveling to Lloyd Memorial (5-0) on Friday at 7 p.m. Ludlow faces Pendleton County (0-5) at the same time.
WILDCATS 16, PANTHERS 14
NEWPORT — 0-8-8-0 — 16
LUDLOW — 6-0-0-8 — 14
(L) Jackson Mays 11-yard pass to Dameyn Anness (8:53) kick blocked
(N) Kyle Lee 22-yard pass to Kayveion Sharp (8:57) Landon Stacks pass from Lee
(N) Kendall Buck-Barber 10-yard interception return (2:51) Keegan Farrell pass from Lee
(L) Aiden Smith-Baxley 5-yard run (:31) kick failed
(L) Safety, Smith-Baxley tackled Ayden Stachel in end zone (:29)
Passing Yards: Newport 160 (Lee 14/28, Lowe 0/1), Ludlow 64 (Mays 5/16, Ralston 0/1)
Rushing Yards: Newport 11 (Stachel 9-20, Thompson 12-2, Lee 7-minus-8, Lowe 1-minus-2, Sharp 1-minus-1), Ludlow 199 (Anness 23-147, Smith-Baxley 6-34, Ralston 3-14, Moore 2-11, Bradenburg 2-9, Garrett 1-2)
Receiving: Newport 160 (Sharp 4-52, Thompson 4-34, Stacks 3-56, Farrell 3-14, Lowe 2-4), Ludlow 64 (Powell 4-53, Garrett 4-0, Anness 1-11)
Turnovers: Newport 1, Ludlow 5
Penalties: Newport 9-44, Ludlow 4-30
Records: Newport 4-1, Ludlow 1-3