By Jamie Wachter / Sports Editor
Charles Black is a defensive guy.
So when Southeast Lauderdale clinched the second seed from Division 5-3A behind a stout defensive performance Friday at Morgan Field, Black was ecstatic. The Tigers beat Newton High 25-8 after allowing only 177 yards of offense, 91 coming on NHS' final drive in the final minutes of the game.
"I'm a defensive coach," Black said moments after letting his SEL team know exactly how proud he was of their performance. "I get our gameplan together offensively and defensively, but I let them call the plays and everything. And I'm just so proud of the way we've been improving.
"There for awhile we had one just one game and we're 1-5. But right now we still don't have a winning record but to be here, it's huge. It tells me that we took our lumps against those 4A schools early and we've learned from it and we're believing in ourselves."
Nowhere was that performance more evident than the middle portion of the game. After allowing 35 yards on Newton's first two drives, Southeast completely shut down NHS for the rest of the first half and most of the second.
That allowed Southeast (5-6 overall and 4-1 in the division) to pull away even without a dominating night offensively. SEL will host Sumrall in a first-round playoff game Friday.
SEL went up 7-0 with 1:34 left in the first quarter when Andrew Black and Jarrett Jenkins hooked up on a 44-yard touchdown pass where Jenkins outraced the Newton secondary. Jenkins later added an interception to close out the first half and had a 30-yard reception on a third-and-20 to set up Southeast's second score.
"If people want to sit on Damion (Willis), we at least do have the threat of others," coach Black said.
That second score game late in the half as Southeast used the momentum of the big pass play to Jenkins to score with 1:27 left in the period. Following that catch, Javaris Deloach went to work picking up 14 yards on three carries, including a 9-yard run where his dive for the end zone came up just shy of the touchdown. Andrew Black took care of that a play later on a sneak, but Deloach did reach something else with the leap as he cleared 1,000 yards on the season. Entering with 945 yards rushing, he carried 19 times for 104 yards and saved his best for his final tote.
Leading 19-0, Southeast tacked on its final score with 8:04 left in the game as Deloach cut back against the Newton defense and raced through the second level on a 39-yard run. The Tigers finished with 174 yards rushing and 287 yards total, with most of the damage besides Deloach and Jenkins coming on a 40-yard Dylan Willis touchdown run in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
"That's what we've been looking for is the balanced, so they can't just sit on our passing game," Black said. "Our passing game has carried us a lot of the year but the last three weeks especially, we've been balanced. There haven't been much difference in passing and rushing yards, and if we can do that, we can compete."
Newton, which will be the fourth seed from the division at 2-8 overall and 2-3 and head to West Marion on Friday, did mount one final drive. Taking over from its own 9 with 2:30 left, NHS used nine plays to score its lone TD. Keoddrick Hillie caught two passes on the drive, both for first downs — one while laying on the ground and the other on a fourth-and-1 — before Marcus Blalock hit Gary Glasper on a 25-yard touchdown screen pass with six seconds left.