A late fourth-down stop by Newberry’s defense and a tiptoe touchdown catch along the right sideline were what the Panthers needed to knock off the hosting Santa Fe Raiders in Alachua Friday night.
Newberry picked up its season-opening 27-20 win behind three touchdown passes, with two to wide receiver Michael Moore, including the go-ahead TD from Trae Butler in the right corner of the end zone.
“I just did what I had to to help the team,” Moore said.
Moore put the Panthers ahead 27-20 with 4:03 left and Newberry’s defense held off a late charge by Santa Fe, stopping the Raiders on a 4th and 11 from the Newberry 26-yard line when Santa Fe quarterback Landon Rogers’ pass fell incomplete with 36 second left.
The scoring started when Newberry quarterback Brandon Hamilton found Perrion Sylvester wide open on a 41-yard strike in the first quarter.
Santa Fe answered on the ensuing kickoff with Elijah Kellum going 91 yards for the TD. The Raiders scored again on a 1-yard Kenyon Carter plunge up the middle for a 13-6 lead.
The Raiders had a chance to add to its lead to start the second quarter, but Rogers fumbled the ball after scrambling for positive yards at the Newberry 20 and the Panthers responded by driving 80 yards, capped by a 15-yard pass from Butler to Moore over the middle.
In the second half, Hamilton scored on a 3-yard quarterback keeper to put Newberry up 20-13 and the Panthers were on the move again but fumbled at midfield, where the Raiders’ Ty’rique Robinson scooped up the ball and scored to tie the game at 20.
“It always feels good to get a win, especially how we played last week,” said Newberry coach Ed Johnson on the Panthers 40-0 loss at Wildwood in the pre-season Kickoff Classic. “We just need to eliminate some mistakes and play better defensively after giving up some big plays.”
Newberry (1-0) travels to Ft White next Friday while Santa Fe (0-1) is at Live Oak to take on Suwannee.