EPPING — Newport closed out its nine-game regular season schedule Saturday with a 21-18 victory over Epping-Newmarket.
With its third-straight victory, the Tigers locked up seventh place in the eight-team Division III tournament and will travel to Manchester Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff against second--seeded Trinity, 8-1.
Trinity’s lone loss came at the hands of Lebanon, also 8-1, on the second week of the season, 21-7. In those eight victories the Manchester school averaged 44.1 points per game.
Newport ended its season at 4-5. The Tigers lost five of its first six games including a streak of four straight losses against several of the stronger teams on its schedule.
In its nine-game season the Tigers of Coach John Proper scored 135 points, an average of 15 points per game.
Against Epping, Newport got all of its scoring from two juniors and in the end the three successful extra point kicks by Marius Edwards played a major roll in the victory following three touchdowns by Josh Sharron, a 155-pound running back with some fast-forward movements.
While these two players tallied all of Newport’s points, there was ample help from their teammates who were involved with blocking assignments. Despite pressure from the Epping defenders, all three of the extra point boots by Edwards split the uprights.
Following a scoreless first period, there was a wake-up call from one of the Newport coaches. “Let’s go guys, you need to wake up, let’s go.”
At that point Epping’s Blue Devils were knocking on the door at the Newport 16 yard line. It took five plays to advance to the 2-yard line before senior Austen Thurlow circle to his left for a touchdown with 9:24 remaining in the second period.
At that point, Sharron broke through the line and blocked the point-after attempt by Epping’s Josh Gahara.
On the next kickoff, an onside kick by Epping was covered by Newport junior Adriano Urista, giving the Tigers a first down at their own 47-yard line. On first down, Sharron bounced off a couple of potential Epping defenders before he was caught at the 15-yard line.
An offside penalty pushed Newport back to the 20 before Sharron picked up four yards followed by Jagger Lovely finding a hole to the 8. At that point Sharron found his way into the end zone, dragging an Epping defender with him over the goal line.
The point-after kick by Edwards at the 7:09 mark gave Newport a 7-6 lead.
With 19 seconds remaining in the period, Epping quarterback Colby Bost connected with Thurlow for a touchdown. Newport knocked down Epping’s attempted two-point conversion pass giving the home team a 12-7 halftime advantage.
Newport received the opening kickoff of the second half and on first down Sharron circled to his right for a crafty 43-yard pickup to the Epping six-yard line and on second down he bulled in for his second touchdown of the game and Edwards added the point after putting Newport back in the lead at 14-12 with 10:16 remaining in the third period.
With 8:46 left in the fourth period, Sharron scored his third touchdown of the game on a 49-yard run through a big hole in the Epping defensive line. With the kick by Edwards Newport found itself on top, 21-12.
Later in the period Thurlow scored his third touchdown for Epping, a one-yard run. The two-point conversion effort failed and Newport secured its 21-18 victory.
Following the game, Proper had nothing but praise for his players. “It would have been easy for you guys to fold up but you didn’t.”