When it comes to Newport, one thing you can count on is the school is going to have fast, hard-to-tackle running backs.
R.J. Rucker is that running back for the Greypups this year.
The Highland junior Rebels chased Rucker around the field all night, and still had a chance to win in the end.
A failed onside kick by the junior Rebs with a minute left in the game allowed Newport to come away with the conference win, 28-22 at Highland (1-2, 0-1) on Sept. 18.
"They've got a bunch of athletes. They're fast, and when they're faster than you, you've got to play sound defense," said Junior Rebel Head Coach Spencer Hill. "You've got to tackle well and we didn't tackle very well tonight. We'll get better, because most teams we play this year will be faster than we are."
After a delay in the game to attend to a fallen Greypup, Rucker put Newport on the board with an 8-yard run.
The junior Rebels responded with a six-play drive for a quarterback Garrett Sublett 23-yard touchdown run. Sterling Stowers plunged in for the 2-point conversion and the 8-6 lead.
Rucker found an opening on the next drive for a 24-yard touchdown. Jeremy Davis added the conversion to retake the lead for Newport, 14-8.
Late in the first half, Rucker returned a junior Rebel punt to the Highland 19 to set up a Davis 4-yard touchdown to send Newport into halftime with a 20-8 lead.
The junior Rebs cut the score to 20-14 on Sublett's second TD to start the second half.
"I'm really happy with our offensive effort. I thought our offensive line blocked hard," said Hill. "There were holes all night. It seemed like we would get seven or eight yards, and we'd get a penalty or two penalties. We shot ourselves in the foot tonight. If we correct that, we can play with anybody."
The defense couldn't stop the Greypups, and Davis got Newport's score on an 11-yard rush.
It took until the one minute mark before Highland could score again.
July Himschoot and Xavier Weiand blocked Rucker's punt to give the junior Rebs the ball at the Newport 20.
Sublett hit Ben Markway for a 17-yard gain.
An offsides call on the Greypups moved the ball to the 2.
Sublett scored for a third time with a rush up the middle. Stowers added the 2-point conversion.
The junior Reb kick off team was not able to manage the onside kick.
Weiand and Kyle Brison led the defense with six tackles.
Brothers Michael and J.J. Moore had five tackles apiece.
Stowers had 38 yards on 14 carries for the junior Rebels.
Highland will travel to Trumann on Sept. 25.