Newberry falls to Limestone on Homecoming

NEWBERRY – Visiting Limestone spoiled Newberry’s Homecoming festivities on Saturday afternoon, outscoring the Wolves 27-6 over the final 30 minutes and kicking a field goal with five seconds remaining to stun Newberry 27-24.

While Newberry (4-4, 2-2 SAC) gave up just 22 yards on 27 Limestone (4-4, 3-2 SAC) rushes, the Saints netted a school-record 400 yards through the air, becoming the first team to reach 400 yards passing on Newberry’s defense in seven years. The Wolves had not allowed a 100-yard receiver in their last 17 contests but saw Vyncint Smith and D’Anta Fleming tally 187 and 173 yards, respectively.

Limestone drove 73 yards in nine plays for the tying field goal with 7:08 remaining in the game. Newberry matched into Saints’ territory looking for a late go-ahead score but was stopped on fourth down at the Saints’ 35 with 1:44 to play.

The decisive drive began with a pass interference penalty against the Wolves that moved the ball to midfield. A holding penalty wiped out a first-down run two plays later, leading to a 3rd and 16 from the Limestone 44 with the clock ticking below 30 seconds. Quarterback DJ Phillips eluded pressure and heaved a deep ball to a diving Smith, who got behind the Newberry defenders and made a tremendous grab at the 1-yard line with 12 seconds to play.

Limestone spiked the ball and sent the field goal unit out with eight seconds remaining. Nick Smith’s 18-yard attempt was true to put the Saints ahead by three. Newberry was able to move as far as its own 40-yard line, but the Wolves’ final play was snuffed out as Limestone earned its first-ever victory over Newberry and handed the Wolves consecutive losses at Setzler Field for the first time since 2012.

Joe Blue had an impressive day for the Newberry defense, amassing six solo stops among his seven tackles, totaling a pair of tackles for loss, and leading the team with a pair of quarterback hurries. Jamarcus Henderson had a pair of sacks to ascend into sixth place in Newberry’s record book. Keito Jordon had a pair of tackles for loss and five total tackles, all individual efforts.

Markell Castle was limited to one catch, a 55-yard heave from Nick Jones that went for the junior’s 17th career touchdown, moving him into fourth place all-time in school history.

Newberry held a 17-0 lead at the half thanks to a 39-yard Kevin Weber field goal, a 66-yard bomb from Greg Ruff to Keinan Lewis, and a 55-yard Ruff scoring jaunt. Newberry got on the board on its second drive after Jawanza Adams set up the offense with excellent field position, intercepting a pass down the sidelines and returning it 26 yards just shy of midfield.

The Wolves’ first touchdown drive came on its next possession. A dead ball foul and a Darius Clark rush put Newberry at its own 34 before Ruff found Lewis down the left side for a score. Ruff’s rushing touchdown came with 5:55 left in the half on the first play of a drive to give the Wolves a 17-point edge.

But Limestone battled back after the intermission, scoring a quick touchdown on the third play of the half and then forcing a fumble that was returned for another touchdown three plays later. Castle’s touchdown came on the third play of the ensuring Newberry drive, finalizing a 3:22 stretch that saw the teams combine for 21 points.

Limestone’s defense limited the Wolves to five completions and an interception on 19 pass attempts. Newberry’s 31.4-yard average per completion, however, set a school record. Shea Rodgers also entered the Newberry record books, uncorking a 69-yard punt in the second quarter that is believed to be the fourth-longest in school history.

Newberry returns to action next Saturday at conference-leading Wingate. Kickoff from Irwin Belk Stadium is set for 6:00 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

Newberry Athletics contributed to the writing of this article.