CLAREMONT — Newport improved to 1-1 Friday night, downing Stevens, 26-18, before a large crowd at Barnes Park.
After being thrashed a week earlier by Lebanon in its home opener, Newport fans were waiting to see how the Tigers would respond against Stevens on a chilly night.
It took only 3 minutes and 40 seconds and they had the answer. Sophomore running back Darshawn Chesser found an opening on the left side of his line and scored on a 5-yard run. Junior Marius Edwards chipped in with the extra point kick and the Tigers were up, 7-0.
That drive after taking the opening kickoff took only seven plays. The word was out. This was not the same Newport team that got smacked by Lebanon a week earlier, 49-6.
“We can be in every game as long as we attack. We need to be aggressive,” freshman coach John Proper said after the game.
Newport fans weren’t quite ready to breath a sigh of relief based on that early touchdown . After another 44:20 on the field, they had their answer.
Everything didn’t go Newport’s way, however. Stevens didn’t give up.
On their first series, the Cardinals took only six plays to get back into the game on a 5-yard run by Keaghan McAllister, a senior running back, with 6:13 to go in the opening period. A run for the extra point failed.
A Newport fumble on the next kickoff was recovered by Stevens and 10 plays later, on the opening play of the second period, McAllister notched his second TD from one yard out. Again the extra points attempt came up short but the Cardinals enjoyed their first lead of the night at 12-7.
Newport regained the lead with 59.5 seconds remaining in the second period on a 27-yard pass to Bryce Willey. A pass for the extra points failed but Newport went into the half with a 13-12 lead.
With 9:47left in the third period, Stevens struck again, this time on a 32-yard pass from, Owen Taylor to Lucas Mudge. The attempt for points failed but the Cardinals were back in the lead at 18-13.
With 10:23 to go in the final period, Josh Sharron intercepted a pass by Stevens and dashed into the end zone from 40 yards out and Newport regained the lead, 19-18, when the point-after kick was blocked.
The Tigers iced the game with another gift TD when Devyn Heino picked up a fumble and headed for the end zone from the 42-yard line. The point-after boot was good and Newport went home with a 26-18 victory.
When Newport players view film of the Lebanon game, Proper suggested they focus on the gang tackling to see how many players were involved with the tackles.
Based on the response by Newport players against Stevens, it looked like they got the message.
Newport travels to Campbell Saturday for an 11 a.m. contest.