COVINGTON -- Shiloh moved the ball effectively and played good defense in its opener Saturday night at Newton but untimely mistakes and turnovers were too much to overcome in a 24-6 loss.
The Generals amassed more than 100 yards rushing and 12 first downs in the first half but saw first hand the speed of the Rams as Chris Dickerson returned a fumble 65 yards and an interception 45 yards for touchdowns and an early 14-0 lead that proved to be insurmountable.
"Our inexperience showed tonight," third-year Shiloh coach Keith Wilkes said. "I thought we played good defense, especially in the second half but mistakes killed us."
Shiloh's first mistake came when it began to rain midway in the first quarter and Shiloh quarterback David Brown mishandled the snap from center. The ball was scooped up by Dickerson and he raced untouched to the end zone.
Dickerson then enhanced his first performance when he picked off an errant Brown pass and showed his sprinter speed to score again just into the second quarter.
Shiloh countered Newton's second touchdown when Derick Butts took the ensuing kickoff and showed some speed of his own in a 98-yard return. The extra point was blocked, but Newton's lead was cut to eight points.
Newton running back Akeem Hunt, also a sprinter and a teammate of Dickerson on the AAAAA championship 400-meter relay team last spring, took a routine handoff off the right side of the line and despite being hit by several Generals, kept his balance and broke free to dash 55 yards for a TD. Another successful extra point put Newton ahead 21-6 with 5:42 left in the first half.
Shiloh again moved the ball along the ground and looked to cut the Newton lead right before half with a first-and-goal from the 5-yard line with 30 seconds left before halftime. Generals' running back Ellis Livesey carried the ball down to the 1 before being stopped.
With time running down, Brown took the snap and instead of spiking the ball to stop the clock, he elected to crash over the right guard. Once repelled, Brown then attempted to spike the ball but was called for intentional grounding as time expired in the first half.
"We had to play well to win tonight and we didn't," Wilkes said. "We had penalties at the wrong time and found ourselves in some third and long for which there just isn't a good play."
The second half, much like the first, was plagued by penalties on both sides. Shiloh did see its ground attack slowed by adjustments made at half by Newton.
The Generals inserted the all-purpose Butts as quarterback in the second half and he made some good gains, but defensive stops by Newton and penalties thwarted any serious attempts to score.
Another miscue, this time a fumbled snap by punter Tommy Blackwell, set up Newton at Shiloh's 17-yard line with just over five minutes to play. The Generals' defense stiffened and forced Newton to kick a 31-yard field goal with 3:54 to play.
Shiloh's defense actually played well for most of the game, allowing only five first downs as Newton scored more than half of its points with big defensive plays.
Butts led a balanced running game for Shiloh that also included good runs Trevon Jones, Livesey and Jordan Germany. Despite three sacks for a minus-20 yards, Butts finished with 50 yards on 16 carries.
The Generals travel to Tift County next week.