Dragons beat PH 62-40 in sectional opener
October 26, 2013By Andrew Smith of New Palestine High School
The unbeaten and second-ranked Dragons outlasted Pendleton Heights 62-40 in a wild game that featured more than 1,300 yards of total offense between the two teams.
The Dragons (10-0) advance to face Muncie South (2-8) in next week’s semifinals. The game at Muncie South will be NP’s fourth straight road game.
NP was led by an offense that tallied 717 yards of offense, and a defense that surrendered 549 passing yards, but forced three turnovers at key moments to keep the Arabians at arm’s length. Dragon quarterback Blake Luker threw for 279 yards and three TDs, and ran for 164 more, accounting for a career-high 443 yards of total offense. Running back James Young had a career-high 269 yards rushing and two scores.
The shootout began early – on NP’s second possession, Young carried four times for all 69 yards, including a 51-yarder to set up his 1-yard TD plunge. The Arabians would score on their next snap – a 71-yard pass to Chandler Wilson – but Young answered again with a 5-yard TD run.
It set up his biggest game of Young’s career, and the biggest individual rushing game by a Dragon in several years.
NP put the Arabians at arm’s length with a second-quarter flurry that saw them score 21 points in 3:23 of clock time without PH snapping the ball. Luker capped off a 10-play, 86-yard drive with a 15-yard pass to Nolan Guedel on fourth down, and then ran the ball in from eight yards out two plays later. NP then took advantage on the next two kickoffs – a PH fumble and a recovered on-side kick. Luker’s 33-yard pass to Duke Blackwell set up a 5-yard TD pass to Guedel, and then used an 18-yard pass to Tyler Walden to set up a 1-yard plunge by Noah Grable, putting the Dragons up 35-7 with 8:07 to go in the second quarter.
NP’s defense then bent, but stopped the Arabians twice inside the 1-yard line – the first time, forcing Eren Davis out of bounds on a fourth-down pass just shy of the pylon, the next, forcing a fumble that rolled through the end zone on a would-be touchdown pass. NP would later force and recover an Arabian fumble to stop a fourth-quarter foray inside the 10-yard line.
PH kept firing, Quarterback Jesse Furrow was 36-61 for 549 yards and six touchdowns, and had 58 rushing yards. Wilson (222 yards, 10 catches, 2 TDs) and Davis (157 yards, 12 catches, 3 TDs) were the main beneficiaries of an attack that eschewed the run almost entirely – Furrow handed off to running back Jim Arney twice, and had a handful of designed quarterback runs. Including sacks and scrambles, all but eight of PH’s 78 offensive snaps were pass plays, most from a 5-wide offensive attack.
Things took off quickly in the third quarter, when the Dragons scored on their first three possessions – and PH answered each of the first two to keep close. The biggest likely was NP’s second TD – a 44-yard run up the middle by Luker on fourth-and-3 that came moments after a 45-yard pass from Furrow to Wilson. Luker’s TD made it 49-20. PH again answered moments later, but Young ripped off a 47-yard run on the Dragons’ first snap, setting up Guedel’s second TD reception of the night.
Notes: The game was the highest-scoring game (both teams) in New Palestine history, eclipsing a 64-36 victory over Knightstown in 1970. … WR Tyler Walden had 10 catches for 140 yard and a touchdown. He broke Brandon Collins’ single-season marks for receptions and receiving yards – Walden now has 69 catches and 1,014 receiving yards this season. Collins’ records were 60 and 929, set in 2011. Walden is two touchdown receptions shy of tying Josh Penley’s career school record of 20, set in 2011. … Young (269) and Luker (164) were the first two Dragons to rush for 100 yards in the same game since Austin Cahoy and Matt Siergiej did so in a 2010 victory over Yorktown. … New Palestine’s 10-game winning streak is the third-longest in school history. … The 444 points they’ve scored this season are the second-most in school history. They need 42 points to set the record set by the 1987 regional championship team. … Luker now has 2,786 career passing yards, and 2,133 yards this season. The latter moves him into second on the school’s single-season passing list, behind Connor Simmons (2,795). … NP now leads the all-time series against Pendleton Heights 14-13. … New Palestine has never played second-round opponent Muncie South.