Saugus misses chances in loss to Newbury Park

Cents lose second straight close game

This one was about third downs and fourth downs — Saugus’ inability to convert them and its defense’s inability to stop them early on.

And when Saugus had one last gasp, quarterback Chris Hamilton was stopped on Newbury Park’s 28-yard line on fourth-and-1 with two minutes left in the game.

The Saugus Centurions lost 44-36 to the Newbury Park Panthers on Friday at College of the Canyons — this despite 246 rushing yards on 32 carries and two touchdowns from running back Troy Williams.

The Centurions (0-2) fell in a 14-0 hole early and can blame that on allowing the Panthers to convert third and fourth downs and long.

On top of that, Saugus burned its timeouts and left points on the board at the end of the half when Hamilton was sacked on the Centurions’ 19-yard line on third down.

Newbury Park (2-0) converted two fourth downs on the game’s opening drive, including a fourth-and-11 from its own 39-yard line.

The drive ended with quarterback Daniel Prieto connecting with Darick Holmes Jr. on a 2-yard fade to the corner of the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

Saugus’ defense buckled again on the next drive, allowing the Panthers to convert on three third downs, including a third-and-10 from the Newbury Park 26.

Prieto found Holmes Jr. around midfield and he zigged and zagged before outracing a Centurion defender for a 74-yard touchdown and 14-0 lead.

But Williams was a workhorse for the Cents.

Saugus used five plays, all runs, to cut the lead to 14-8 with 1:57 to play in the first quarter.

The drive culminated in a 9-yard run and two-point conversion run by Hamilton.

Hamilton finished a six-run drive midway through the second quarter with a 5-yard touchdown and 15-14 Saugus lead.

It took Newbury Park just 23 seconds to answer.

Holmes Jr., a University of Arizona commit, returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards. Saugus added 15 yards onto that because of a horse-collar tackle.

Three plays later, running back Chucky Smith made it 21-15 with a 2-yard touchdown run.

The Panthers took a 28-15 lead on their first drive of the third quarter when Prieto connected with Darnay Holmes on a 13-yard pass.

Saugus answered with touchdowns on back-to-back drives — a 25-yard touchdown run by Williams and Marc Langford’s 23-yard touchdown on a bubble screen — to lead 29-28 late in the third quarter.

But the Cents defense couldn’t contain Holmes Jr.

He scored on an 11-yard reception from Prieto in the third quarter and a 54-yard reception that proved to be the dagger.

That score followed a Troy Williams 4-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that cut the Newbury Park lead to 38-36 with 8:41 to play in the fourth quarter.

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