Saturday, September 11, 1999

Newport 25, Beechwood 22


QB Smith runs, throws for 3 TDs

BY NEIL SCHMIDT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[newton]
Newport's Doug Newton runs up against Beechwood defenders from left, Josh Kaiser, Gerry Ramundo and Mike Nie.
(Jeff Swinger photos)
ZOOM
        NEWPORT — It has been just more than four years since Roy Lucas Sr. came here to save football. It feels like forever since a night like Newport celebrated Friday.

        The Wildcats' ascent reached its peak Friday with a 25-22 beating of Beechwood. Though the teams play in different divisions, it was as symbolic a statement as Newport could make.

        “I think we got our respect now,” senior tight end Eddie Bivens said.

        Beechwood, Kentucky's top-ranked Class A team and winner of six of the last eight state championships, hadn't lost a regular-season game in more than three years. That winning streak numbered 28 since a 14-12 loss to Lloyd on Sept. 5, 1996.

        Newport was a program in peril when Lucas took over in 1995. The team had gone 0-10 in '94, and football was nearly dropped.

        Lucas steered Newport to playoff appearances in his first four seasons, going 33-15, but his fifth team appears his best. Newport, ranked fourth in the AA state poll, is 3-0 and quite possibly headed for an unbeaten regular season.

[partin]
Newport's Nick Partin runs the ball against Beechwood.
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        “I feel super,” Lucas said. “This was a great win for our program.

        “It was not a must-win, but a game we felt we had to play well in. That's the type of team we'll have to play in the playoffs.”

        Newport hasn't had a higher state ranking since 1980, when it went 11-0 and ended the regular season ranked No.1 in AAA — only to lose to Conner in a playoff opener. Its best finish came in 1985, when it lost to Belfry in the AAA semifinals.

        “I'm kinda mad at the kids at school,” Newport senior quarterback Charlie Smith said. “They were dogging us all week, telling us, "I'll give you Newport and 14 (points).'

        “But if they want to jump on the bandwagon now, that's fine. This was real big for the city of Newport. We proved we can win a state title this year.”

        Friday's hero was no surprise: Smith ran for 135 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries and passed for 172 yards and two TDs. Many consider him Northern Kentucky's most talented player; he both rushed and passed for 1,200 yards last season.

        With senior tailback Nick Partin struggling with a sprained knee — he gained just 27 yards on 13 carries Friday — Smith's versatility was invaluable. He made Bivens a star, connecting with him six times for 127 yards and two TDs.

        “We knew we had to keep the ball in Charlie's hands. He's a winner,” Lucas said. “But the defense was the difference tonight. Our defense came to play.”

        Newport raced to a 25-0 lead just 2:30 into the third quarter, converting five times on third or fourth down to that point.

        Back came Beechwood (2-1). Four minutes into the fourth quarter, the lead was just 25-14, and the Tigers were driving. But at the Newport 30, Beechwood's Mike Nie was intercepted by sophomore linebacker Greg Asher.

        One more rally: Nie threw a 58-yard TD bomb to Preston Long with 1:47 left, and it was 25-22. But Newport recovered an onside kick and Smith ran for a first down to kill the clock.

        Beechwood ....... 0   0   7  15—22

        Newport ....... 7  12   6   0—25

        N—Byrd 8 run (Bedford kick)

        N—Bivens 50 pass from C.Smith (kick blocked)

        N—Bivens 3 pass from C.Smith (run failed)

        N—C.Smith 10 run (pass failed)

        B—List 45 pass from Nie (Robb kick)

        B—Sketch 55 punt return (Robb kick)

        B—Long 58 pass from Nie (List pass from Long)

        Records: Newport 3-0, Beechwood 2-1.

       



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