NEWNAN - The high-powered spread offenses of North Gwinnett and Newnan were both slowed down by the elements in their Class AAAAA state quarterfinal game.
Unfortunately for the No. 10 state-ranked Bulldogs, the third-ranked Cougars were able to cope with the heavy rain a little bit better.
More importantly, they were able to better take advantage of their trips to the red zone, scoring on all three of their attempts, while North managed just a single field goal on its three trips, which made the difference in a 20-3 Newnan victory Friday night at soggy Drake Stadium.
The result helped the Cougars (13-0) gain a measure of revenge after North (10-3) ended its season in the quarterfinals a year ago, and moved them into a state semifinal date next week against No. 2 Camden County at a site to be determined.
It also left the Bulldogs wondering what might have been after letting opportunities to take control of the game slip away, especially in the first half.
"We were down in the red zone three times and got three points out of it," North coach Bob Sphire said. "That's not going to win a quarterfinal game. We got beat by a great football team, but we had our chances. We just didn't take advantage of them."
Indeed, the Bulldogs had their chances, especially as both teams had their problems holding onto the ball, and it cost each during the first half.
A bad snap led to Alec Olgetree's block of Jeff Hatley's 21-yard field goal attempt late in the first quarter, keeping North from taking the lead.
Then, after Newnan jumped out in front 7-0 on Russell Powell's 29-yard touchdown pass to Alan Bonner with 7:04 left in the first half, the wet ball came into play twice more in the half.
First, Bonner had the ball stripped from him after a 16-yard gain, giving North the ball at the Newnan 40 with 1:57 left in the half.
Six plays later, it looked like the Bulldogs might tie the game when Mikey Tamburo spotted a wide open Tyler Jarry in the back of the end zone from 8 yards out.
But the ball slipped from the senior's hands, and North had to settle for a 25-yard field goal from Hatley with 12.9 seconds left and while Newnan's lead was cut to 7-3 heading into intermission, coach Robert Herring believed his team still had momentum.
"It changed ol' mo right there," Herring said of holding North to a field goal. "We've given up 31 points in 13 games this year. ... But I'm proud of how both teams played (in the elements). Both teams showed lots of class, played hard and didn't give up."
North certainly didn't give up, especially after forcing two more fumbles inside Newnan territory in the third quarter.
But the Bulldogs still couldn't find the end zone, even after taking the first Newnan turnover as deep as the Cougars' 7-yard line late in the third quarter.
This time, a key false start penalty set North back, and Tamburo was sacked for an 8-yard loss a play later, which led to another missed field goal, keeping Newnan's 7-3 lead intact with 2:29 left in the period.
"We just didn't execute in goal line (situations) and they did," said a disappointed Tamburo, who completed just 7 of 18 passes for 72 yards and an interception, and ran for only 30 yards on 17 carries, though that number was skewed by a few late game sacks. "We're both spread teams. So the rain is no excuse. We just didn't finish it."
North couldn't move after recovering the second fumble, and a bad snap on the ensuing punt set Newnan up on the Bulldogs' 32.
It took the Cougars only four plays to score, with Russell Powell sneaking in from a yard out to extend the Newnan lead to 14-3 with 10:25 to play.
After holding North three-and-out on its next possession, Newnan then took over and drove 67 yards in 15 plays, draining 6:22 off the clock in the process, before scoring again on a 9-yard pass from Powell to E.J. Houston, stretching the lead to 20-3 with 2:30 left.
Powell finished the game by completing his last 10 consecutive passes for 138 yards and two scores, while Kendreas Wynn ran for 65 of his team-high 78 yards in the second half.
Jarry led North offensively with 83 yards on 20 carries.
Newnan 20, North Gwinnett 3
Newnan: Alan Bonner 29 pass from Russell Powell (Sam Taylor kick), 7:04
North: Jeff Hatley 25 FG, 0:12.9
Newnan: Russell Powell 1 run (Taylor kick), 10:25
Newnan: E.J. Houston 9 pass from Powell (Taylor kick), 2:30
Rushing - North: Tyler Jarry 20-83, Mikey Tamburo 17-30, Raahmil Brantley 3-19, Joe Jones 2-15. Newnan: Keandreas Wynn 16-78, Nick Hill 2-10, Houston 1-0, Bonner 1-(-4), Powell 16-(-8).
Passing - North: Tamburo, 7-18-1, 72. Newnan: Powell, 10-12-0, 138.
Receiving - North: Jarry 3-45, Jones 2-22, Kenny Barnes 1-9, Kitaro Lewis 1-(-4). Newnan: Bonner 5-85, Houston 3-41, Antwon Johnson 1-6, Zack Thompson 1-6.