Friday night football: Newport gives Lebanon a foggy fight

  • Devyn Heino

  • Jack Stone

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 10/2/2020 11:00:09 PM
Modified: 10/2/2020 10:59:56 PM

LEBANON — The players are supposed to listen to the coach. But sometimes the coach needs to reverse the roles.

That’s one of several lessons Newport High football coach John Proper gained from a hard-fought 7-6 loss to Lebanon at Henry Emerton Memorial Field on a foggy, fumble-filled Friday night. Proper entered the contest hoping his Tigers’ efforts would generate a little more respect around NHIAA Division IV, and they will.

Before that respect turns to victories, however, Newport (1-1) will need to clean up its turnovers … and maybe work a little harder to convince Proper come decision time.

“I had a couple of bad calls that impacted the game,” Proper said. “I told the kids they can’t point fingers at each other. If you want to point a finger, point it at me. I’m the head coach who’s supposed to make the right calls, and I made a couple of bad calls. That was pretty much the outcome of the game.”

Newport lost the turnover battle, delivering three fumbles into the hands of Lebanon defenders, one of which set up the Raiders’ only touchdown. But the Tigers did their share of stout defending, too, blocking a Lebanon punt for a touchdown and frequently harassing Raider quarterback Jack Stone. Newport defensive end Devyn Heino had a hand in three second-half sacks of the Lebanon signal caller that kept the hosts from ever getting comfortable.

“Newport came to play tonight; they got after it,” Lebanon coach Chris Childs said. “They manhandled us a little up front, which surprised me. The end of the day, the kids kind of put it together enough so we could get out of here with a win.”

Proper found fault with himself on two key second-half situations.

The first came three plays into the third quarter. On third-and-6 from the Newport 39-yard line, an attempt at a shotgun snap to quarterback Marius Edwards instead hit man-in-motion Jagger Lovely, the ensuing fumble landing in the arms of Lebanon linebacker Nyeoti Punni at the 35. Stone (14 carries, game-high 64 yards) used a 22-yard keeper to set up an eventual 2-yard TD, with Tanner Ames converting the PAT with 8:05 left in the period for a 7-0 lead.

The Tigers, who lost a fumble in the first half, gave another one over on a dropped Edwards snap at the Lebanon 28 on Newport’s next possession. The Tigers’ defense responded: Heino sacked Stone for a 9-yard loss on third down, and a high punt snap gave the Tigers’ Josh Sharron enough time to block a Stone kick from inside the Lebanon 10, which teammate Chase Hamilton recovered in the end zone to cut the deficit to 7-6.

Proper wavered on the point-after decision, eventually turning to Edwards for a tying kick. The ball curled wide left.

“We wanted to go for two, I wanted to go for two, then I decided to go for one,” Proper said. “The kids all wanted to go for two. Hindsight is 20-20. I should have listened to the boys.”

Neither team gained much purchase in a scoreless first half punctuated by slippery pigskins and here-and-there fog.

Not that his legs and right arm aren’t enough, but — thanks to Newport’s fast, effective defense — Stone showed off a useful punting foot for Lebanon. Even as the Raiders (2-0) struggled on offense, Stone averaged 40 yards on four first-half kicks with a 45-yarder and another of 44, leaving the Tigers with a long field most times.

Newport never crossed midfield in the opening half. Lebanon’s only scoring opportunity, a 22-yard Ames field goal try after a Tiger fumble, went wide left just before halftime.

“We knew they were going to try to pound the ball at us, and defensively we played pretty well,” Childs said. “Offensively, we struggled tonight blocking those guys up front.”

One week after amassing more than 400 total yards in a 59-14 win over Stevens, the Raiders managed just 150 against the Tigers. A week after a 356-yard offensive effort in 53-10 defeat of Mascoma, Newport produced only 93 yards on the Raiders.

That said, Proper believes the Tigers will get the one thing they sought from playing last year’s NHIAA D-II finalists to a near standstill: a little bit of regard from the rest of the state.

“This was a statement game for us, and we put a statement out for the rest of D-IV and to the other teams we face,” Proper said. “They have to be ready.”

Audibles: Defensive end Cameron Davio had a pair of fumble recoveries for Lebanon. … Sharron led Newport with 47 rushing yards on nine attempts. Lovely, who ran for 172 yards and two scores against Mascoma, was held by the Raiders to 22 yards on 18 carries. … Stone completed five of 15 passes for 76 yards and was the victim of several drops. … Heino had two solo sacks and shared a third with Hamilton. … Lebanon will get a big D-II test with a visit to Plymouth next Saturday. Newport will be home to Fall Mountain the same day.

Greg Fennell can be reached at or 603-727-3226.

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