Newberg football starts season with 28-27 win over Grant
In 2021, it took Newberg football until week seven before the Tigers nabbed their first win. In 2022, they wasted no time etching their name in the win column, defeating the reigning Portland Interscholastic League (PIL) champion Grant 28-27 Thursday, Sept. 1.
Newberg overcame a late deficit in the fourth quarter thanks to junior receiver Gannon Williams, who tumbled over a Grant defender and scored the touchdown to even the score at 27-27. Newberg kicker Kai Clark kicked the PAT through the uprights to give the Tigers the 28-27 lead, which they held onto to win.
"A win's a win, whether it's one or a million points, everyone enjoys a win," Newberg head coach Jeremy Johnson said. "Our kids earned it, they played against a very good Grant team, those coaches did a very good job. Their kids played really hard all game, they got right back in the scoring zone and we just had a couple things go our way. Credit to our kids for fighting through it, credit to their kids for keeping on competing. It was a good, fun high school football game."
The Tigers' defense was up to the task. While the team recorded just one sack and two tackles for losses, Newberg bowed its back when it needed to. Grant's drive to win the game was stymied in the red zone, with the Generals coming up short by an inch.
Newberg senior Hudson Davis was the team's engine on both sides of the ball, leading the team in rushing yards and carries, 18 carries for 107 yards, as well as tackles with nine. Davis will be one of the pivotal cogs in Newberg's quest for a Pacific Conference championship.
"As far as returners go, Hudson Davis is a guy who everyone is aware of and everyone knows, he's earned that right," Johnson said. "He earns it every day in practice, he earns it every day on the field."
Newberg tallied 288 total yards of offense, but two of the team's scores came on defense and special teams. An early pick six defensive back Isaac Heveron and a kickoff return by senior Garrett Chaffee gave the Tigers the points to hang with Grant.
Quarterback Cole Thomas went 4-for-8 with 88 yards and two interceptions.
Heading into the rest of the season, Johnson wants to continue to see his players grow into a stronger team.
"We've got to create a little more depth, got to get in a little bit better shape," Johnson said. "Our guys need to be able to run more. I think some of their big plays were a result of not running to the right ball, right angle, and our guys were a little taxed. We have to create some depth and get some of our injured guys back. That's one of the bigger goals, but we're fighting to become the best team we can, a better team, so that by the end of the season, we've gotten better each week."
Up next for the Tigers is another PIL foe. Newberg (1-0) hosts Lincoln (0-1) on Friday, Sept. 9. The Cardinals suffered a week one defeat at the hands of Bend, losing 48-0.
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