Capitalizing on their opponent's mistakes are what good teams do to win games, especially when they are not playing at their best.
Robinson High School's football team did exactly that Friday night, taking advantage of five Newton turnovers and erasing a seven-point halftime deficit to score a 34-13 win in Little Illini Conference Egyptian Division play.
"I am proud of our team," RHS head coach Tim Nolen said. "We took advantage of some breaks and they (Newton) self-destructed in the second half."
The Maroons got off to a slow start, going three-and-out on their first drive, then Austin Weck's punt deflected off a RHS lineman and the ball was downed at the 29-yard line. Newton converted the short field into points, as quarterback Dylan Johnson scored on a four-yard run six plays later to give the Eagles a 6-0 lead with 8:23 left in the first quarter.
After a series of punts, Newton had the ball back, but Johnson's pass on the first play of the second quarter was intercepted by Nick Berty at the 32 and returned to the 22. Then, Austin Weck scooted 22 yards for a touchdown on the next play, tying the score at 6-6 with 11:46 remaining in the first half.
Newton would respond on their next possession, moving 63 yards in nine plays, with the last being a 19-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Derek Schackmann to put the Eagles back on top, 13-7, with 7:35 to go before halftime and they would hold that margin at intermission.
"Our rough start you can credit Newton with," Nolen said. "They came out and played really well and played hard."
However, the second half was all Robinson, thanks in large part to some slippery fingers for Newton and a key injury.
On Newton's second play of the third quarter, a bad snap went over Johnson's head, which Jesse Richart recovered at the 12-yard line. Four plays later, Jason Richart scored on a one-yard plunge, but Blake Hale's pass on a fake extra point attempt fell incomplete and the Maroons still trailed, 13-12, with 9:27 to play in the third quarter.
Two plays into Newton's next drive, a screen pass by Johnson went through a receiver's hands and Bucky Stevens jumped into the air to grab the interception and returned it 24 yards for a score. Richart would add the two-point conversion run and the Maroons took a 20-13 lead with 8:31 remaining.
The quick strikes would continue for the Maroons, as Austin Weck took a handoff on the second play after a Newton punt and raced 91 yards for a score, giving Robinson a 27-13 advantage with 4:33 left.
Weck would then cap the scoring with an eight-yard touchdown run at the 10:02 mark of the fourth quarter and the Maroons cruised to the win, which gave them the Shrine Game trophy for the fourth straight year and spoiled Newton's Homecoming in the process.
"There is a lot to be said for our team taking advantage," Nolen said. "This was a tough game physically and both teams suffered key injuries. You have to have guys step up and have guys make plays and we did that."
Early in the third quarter, Newton's main receiving weapon, Dylan Davidson, suffered a knee injury and did not return, which hampered the Eagles' passing attack immensely. On the other hand, Robinson's Derrick Nicholas suffered a concussion and did not play in the second half.
"That was a big factor in the game," Nolen said. "It changed their offense. He is a dangerous weapon and it was definitely an advantage for us. Geoffrey Harrison came in at less than 100 percent and played well for us at defensive end in place of Derrick. But, the one I am most proud of is Landen Hoagland. He moved from split end to tight end to replace Derrick and did a nice job blocking for us."
For the game, Robinson outgained Newton 262-215, but the big difference came in the turnover category. Newton turned the ball over five times on three interceptions and two fumbles, while Robinson did not turn the ball over. The Maroons also converted three of those turnovers into 20 points.
Weck led the way for Robinson with 127 yards rushing and three touchdowns on just six carries, while also catching two passes for four yards.
"He is Mr. Big Play," Nolen said. "He is like a keg of dynamite sitting on it when he gets the ball. He did a nice job running and an adequate job filling in as a punter."
Beard added 68 yards on the ground in 14 attempts, Richart picked up 42 yards and a touchdown in 10 carries and Lucas Bell ran seven times for 13 yards. Stevens completed four of seven passes for 12 yards, with Nicholas being the leading receiver with one catch for seven yards.
Newton was led by Johnson, who was 13-27 passing for 122 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions and he also ran for 59 yards and another score. Schackmann caught four passes for 50 yards and a touchdown, Davidson made five catches for 50 yards and Allen Taylor added 23 yards rushing and 12 yards receiving.
Robinson (4-2, 3-1 LIC Egyptian) will play host to Flora in their final LIC Egyptian Division game of the season Friday at 7 p.m.
At Chivezsky Field, Newton
Robinson 0 6 21 7 - 34
Newton 6 7 0 0 - 13
NCHS 1Q (8:23) Dylan Johnson 4 run (kick failed)
RHS 2Q (11:46) Austin Weck 22 run (kick blocked)
NCHS 2Q (7:35) Johnson 19 pass to Derek Schackmann (Brandon Tolliver-Goode kick)
Rushing - (RHS) Austin Weck 6-127, Austin Beard 14-68, Jason Richart 10-42, Lucas Bell 7-13, Bucky Stevens 6-0. (NCHS) Dylan Johnson 17-59, Allen Taylor 7-23, Brandon Tolliver-Goode 3-5, Marcus Pilman 3-5, Tanner Shull 1-1.
Passing - (RHS) Bucky Stevens 4-7-12-0TD-0INT. (NCHS) Dylan Johnson 13-27-122-1TD-3INT.
Receiving - (RHS) Derrick Nicholas 1-7, Austin Weck 2-4, Austin Beard 1-1. (NCHS) Dylan Davidson 5-50, Derek Schackmann 4-50, Allen Taylor 1-12, Austin Angel 1-6, Brandon Tolliver-Goode 1-3, Marcus Pilman 1-1.