By KEVIN HARRIS
In a defensive struggle on Friday night, New Albany evened its record at 1-1 at John Lidy Field with a 14-7 loss to Castle. It was the Knights’ fourth straight victory over the Bulldogs.
Castle got on the scoreboard first midway through the second quarter. Following a Tuwan Payton fumble at the Castle 23-yard line, the Knights went on a 14-play, 77-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by junior Christian Peach. Knights’ place-kicker Ryan Arseneaux missed the extra-point kick and Castle led 6-0 with 7:21 left in the second quarter.
After a botched snap on a New Albany punt attempt that put the ball at the Bulldog 15, the Knights were on the verge of entering the end zone again. On first-and-goal at the New Albany 2, Bulldog senior Jeffontae McClain intercepted a short toss by Castle quarterback Will Randell at the 2-yard line.
New Albany quarterback Zach Donan made the Knights pay on the next play.
On a option keeper, the junior ran into a pile of Knight defenders near the line of scrimmage and then shifted left and kept on running
along the Castle sideline. Donan ended up with a 98-yard touchdown run, and following a good extra-point boot by kicker Vincent Falcone, New Albany took its first
lead of the night at 7-6.
The Bulldogs tried to add onto their advantage before halftime, as Falcone attempted a 49-yard field goal with 18.8 seconds remaining in the first half. Falcone’s kick had the distance, but the ball floated wide of the left upright to keep New Albany’s lead at one point.
A pair of Bulldog penalties helped the Knights score their second touchdown of the night.
Peach capped off a nine-play, 87-yard series with a 5-yard TD run to give Castle the lead back at 12-7. During the drive, New Albany got called for a 10-yard defensive holding infraction and a 15-yard personal-foul facemask penalty. Both infractions resulted in first downs for the Knights. Castle (1-1) used some trickery to convert the two-point conversion.
Randell acted like he was signaling a play to his wide receiver when Peach received a direct snap. Peach then pitched the ball to wideout Zach Lockyear, who then threw a dart to Randell in the right side of the end zone to put the Knights up seven.
Twice in the fourth quarter, New Albany got the ball inside the Castle 10. It failed both times to at least tie the game. The Bulldogs drove the ball to the Castle 5 early in the fourth. On fourth-and-goal, Donan tried to hit wide receiver Ravon Wright on a fade route in the left corner of the end zone, but the ball went over Wright’s head, giving the ball back to Castle on downs.
On third-and-11 at the Castle 42, Randell was forced to throw an incomplete pass after getting pressured by New Albany’s Damian McDuffy and Ethan Atkins. After the Knights punted the ball to the Bulldog 26, New Albany drove the ball down to the Castle 9 to give it a first-and-goal.
The Knights’ defense sniffed out back-to-back quarterback keepers by Donan to put the ball at the Castle 21. Then on third-and-goal, Castle senior Tanner Weisheit sacked Donan for 9 yards to push the ball back to the 30.
On fourth-and-goal, Donan launched a pass to tight end Jared Jones in the back of the end zone. Jones caught the ball but he was out of the end zone to conclude New Albany’s chance of going 2-0.
The Bulldogs will host Jennings County in its Hoosier Hills Conference opener next Friday.
CASTLE 14, NEW ALBANY 7
New Albany 0 7 0 0— 7
Castle 0 6 8 0—14
C — Christian Peach 1 run (kick failed), 7:21.
NA — Zach Donan 98 run (Vincent Falcone kick), 3:31.
C — Peach 5 run (Will Randell pass from Zach Lockyear), 2:44.
New Albany (7-17-53-0): Donan 7-17-53-0.
Castle (6-19-77-3): Randell 6-19-77-3.
New Albany (46-274): Tuwan Payton 29-169, Donan 13-106, Ravon Wright
2-(-4), Falcone 2-3.
Castle (47-190): Peach 37-170, Randell 5-1, Matt Fuller 5-19.
New Albany: Jared Jones 2-8, Wright 3-23, Keaton Stout 2-22.
Castle: Ben Ison 2-19, Evan Watkins 3-30, Jace Parus 1-28.