JACKSON — Newton County’s Carlois Walker was a one-man wrecking crew.
Behind the rushing of Walker and stingy defense, the Cougars were able to hold off Lanier 18-14 in the first round of the MHSAA Class 4A playoffs at Hughes Field on Friday night.
Newton County (7-5) will host Moss Point next week in the second round of the postseason. The last time Newton County hosted a playoff game was 2008.
“This is just a big win for our program, school and community. It’s been a long time coming,” Newton County coach Bobby Bass said. “It starts with the guys believing and not holding their hands down.”
Lanier scored on a 31-yard fumble return by Camaurice Davis with 2:04 left in the first quarter to give the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead.
Walker responded by scoring on a 51-yard touchdown run, and a successful two-point conversion gave the Cougars an 8-6 lead with 1:35 left in the first quarter.
Walker then followed with a 69-yard touchdown run with 8:21 left in the second quarter to extend the Newton County lead to 15-7.
“They were stacking the box, and he did what he does,” Bass said. “He’s a grinder, and did what we asked them to do.”
Walker finished the night with 187 yards on 24 carries with two touchdowns.
“My lineman did a good job blocking, and I did my part,” Walker said. “We’ve been working all season and offseason, and it’s finally paying off. Onto the next one.”
Lee Hill added a 20-yard field goal with 4:39 left in the third quarter to extend the lead to 18-6.
Lanier cut it to 18-14 on a 3-yard run by quarterback Ladarius Mayes-Peals, but the Cougar defense did its part by holding Lanier to just 186 yards of total offense and kept the Bulldogs out of the end zone the rest of the game.
“We preach over and over about overcoming adversity, and they did that tonight in not-so-good conditions,” Bass said. “They understand how to win, and I’m super excited to being able to host a playoff game next week.”