"We made some effective adjustments, especially on the defensive line, and did what we needed to do on defense in the second half," he said. "We just couldn't put any points on the board. We get two opportunities with one of the best kickers (Jason Chadwick) in this part of the state, and we don't score. We hurt ourselves with critical turnovers, and we made some mistakes. You just can't do that in a game like this and win."
Newport drove 73 yards in seven plays on its opening possession, scoring when Runion ran up the middle for 3 yards less than four minutes into the game.
Mercer countered with an 80-yard scoring drive of its own, capped by a 51-yard scoring pass from quarterback Michael Bottoms to Jordan Lyons.
Runion keyed Newport's next drive by completing two passes for 49 yards, hitting David Schoo for 7 yards and the score late in the first period.
Mercer got a 45-yard field goal from Chadwick after a Newport fumble to close to within four, but Newport answered with a 31-yard scoring pass from Runion to Alvin Pate midway through the second period.
"They were just moving the ball pretty much every play in the first half," said Hammons. "They pushed us around up front, and their quarterback hurt us bad."
Big plays get Scotties back in the game
A couple of big plays late in the half got the Scotties back in the game. Jordan Lyons found John Lyons for a 35-yard gain on a halfback pass, then Bottoms scrambled up the middle for 23 yards and a touchdown to cut the halftime margin to three points.
Neither team would score again.
"We felt really good at halftime, because we hadn't played all that well and were only three points down," said Hammons.
Chadwick attempted a 52-yard tying field goal at the close of the half that fell just short, and had a 27-yard attempt to begin the fourth period that was wide left.
"It's tough to take when we put ourselves in position to get at least a tie and couldn't convert," said Hammons.
The Wildcats (3-3) lived on the Scotties' end of the field for most of the second half, but Mercer's defense came up big each time and prevented the visitors from scoring again. Newport had drives that ended on Mercer's 14-, 21- and 16-yard lines in the second half without producing points.
Andrew McCloud was the big weapon on the ground for the Scotties, carrying the ball 16 times for 113 yards.
"Our kids fought hard, and I'm especially proud of the way our defense came back in the second half," said Hammons, whose team fell to 3-4 on the season. "Our offense played well for the most part, especially considering the way we were tossed around last week (against Garrard County)."
Gary Moyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.