The margin of error for the Newport Knights (0-5) was small going up against a talented Issaquah Eagles (3-2) defense. Unfortunately for Newport head coach Drew Oliver, mistakes at key moments of the game proved costly in a 7-6 loss to the Eagles on Oct. 4.
“The effort is there for these guys and I’m proud of them,” Oliver said. “But we don’t have a margin of error and we’re making too many errors.”
In the first quarter, both teams managed to run the ball effectively but both opening drives ended on failed fourth-down conversions.
After another fourth-down stop by the Issaquah defense, the Eagles offense started their drive at the Newport 29-yard line. The Eagles took advantage of the positive field position and Issaquah running back Isaac Pak found the end zone on fourth-down and goal at the 1-yard-line to put them up 7-0 early in the second quarter.
Late in the second quarter, the Knights defense gave the offense good field position after they forced an Issaquah fumble at the 38-yard line. Oliver said the defense has been a strength all season long for the Knights.
“The defense played spectacular and they’ve been spectacular all year long,” Oliver said. “They were put in a lot of situations with their backs against the wall and they responded. I’m very proud of their effort.”
The Knights capped off the drive when wide receiver Joey Winter caught a perfectly placed 13-yard pass from quarterback Nolan Rouse in the back of the end zone with eight seconds left before halftime. The point-after attempt went wide, making it a 7-6 game at the break.
Neither offense could move the ball in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Newport running back Nirun Turner fumbled the ball giving the Eagles offense the football at the Knights’ 6-yard line. Facing a third-and-goal at the 4-yard line, a high snap sailed of Barnwell’s head and was recovered by Newport.
With the Knights facing a fourth-down and 12 at midfield, Rouse dropped back to pass, but was hit by Issaquah defensive lineman Stephan Sweeney, causing a fumble that was recovered by the Eagles with 3:40 left in the fourth quarter.
The Knights defense held the Eagles offense forcing a punt with just over two minutes left. For the second time in the quarter, Sweeney forced Rouse to fumble the ball, capping off the victory for the Eagles.
Newport’s offense ran the ball and picked up first downs, but they were unable to finish drives.
“We have to be able to complete it,” Oliver said. “We’re getting ourselves in good positions and we’re very close, but we’re doing something to derail that at some point.”
The Knights will look to get their first win of the season on the road against the Inglemoor Vikings (3-2) on Oct. 10. Oliver said the team is getting better each week but they need to play a complete game, something they haven’t been able to do yet.
“Unfortunately, they’ve had too many tough losses,” Oliver said. “I do like the make-up of this team, I like the character of this group. I’ve said it all along, I don’t think they’re going to get buried by a loss. I really just want some success for them.”