Newnan withstood an early charge from M.L. King and turned up the offense after halftime to win 15-6 at Drake Stadium on Friday and reach the Class AAAAA quarterfinals for the third consecutive season.
No. 3 Newnan (12-0) will either host or visit No. 1 Grayson, pending a coin toss held late Friday night. Newnan has reached the quarterfinals with an undefeated record each year.
“You fight your fannies off in the regular season to get homefield advantage,” Newnan first-year coach Mike McDonald said. “It’s a hard road to hoe when you get a 3 or 4 seed.”
The M.L. King defense, third in Class AAAAA in points allowed, held Newnan out of the end zone before halftime for the first time this season. The Cougars managed 28 yards in the first half on 13 plays, most of that on a 21-yard reception by Alec Ogletree.
Newnan spoiled M.L. King’s fifth consecutive shutout when Christopher Robinson scored on a 2-yard run early in the third quarter. Alec Ogletree (three catches, 36 yards) received a short kick and returned the ball to the M.L. King 22. He caught a 16-yard pass from Lendell Arnold on fourth down to set up first-and-goal from the 2. Robinson scored on the next play.
“You knew points would be hard to come by,” McDonald said. “King is good on defense and we didn’t help ourselves. The defense played lights out again. They kept us in the game until we turned it around offensively.”
Newnan went ahead 13-6 on Robinson’s second score, from 4 yards out. Mack Brown (three carries, 7 yards) fumbled at the 18, and Newnan’s Alexander Ogletree put the Cougars inside the M.L. King 5 with a 20-yard run. Robinson scored on first-and-goal.
Brown, a Florida commitment suffering from a leg injury, did not play in the first quarter and rushed twice in the first half.
Arnold passed for 88 yards and converted two third downs in the fourth quarter. Arnold, a junior, is one of 11 new offensive starters for the Cougars.
M.L. King (10-2) fell behind 15-6 in the fourth quarter when a bad snap sailed over the head of punter Brandon Sharp and into the end zone. Sharp pushed the ball out of the end zone for a Newnan safety.
Cameron Myles passed for 76 yards, and eight runners combined for 122 yards rushing.