By JON REITER
Jeffersonville survived an early punch from the New Albany football team last night as IHSAA sectional play opened at Blair Field, but the Red Devils simply had too much firepower and advanced with a 62-35 win over the Bulldogs.
The Red Devils, in notching 49 points in the first half, scored more points against New Albany in a single game than at any time in a series that began in 1904.
“We got off to kind of a slow start,” Jeffersonville (7-3) coach Lonnie Oldham said. “But 49 points in the first half is pretty good. They probably started with more emotion to start with, but we turned that back around.”
New Albany (5-5) which didn’t enter last night’s contest with its archrival known for its high-octane offense, surprised Jeffersonville with two early scoring plays. A 44-yard-touchdown run by quarterback Michael Diehl gave New Albany a 7-0 lead with about seven minutes left in the first quarter, and Diehl hit Ravon Wright for a 65-yard slant pattern and touchdown that made the score 14-7 midway through the first quarter.
Quarterback Tyler Fridley struggled at the outset, completing only 1 of his first 5 pass attempts, but began finding his groove towards the end of the first quarter. His 14-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Embry towards the back of the end zone at the end of play in the first quarter gave the Red Devils their first lead of the night, 21-14.
Fridley notched three additional touchdown passes towards the end of the first half — two to 6-foot-4, 250-pound split end Dionte Allen and another to tight end Dalton Adkins — to give Jeffersonville a 49-21 lead at intermission.
At one point during the second quarter, Fridley completed eight consecutive passes to five different Red Devil receivers.
Austin Hines added three touchdown runs of 5, 9 and 1 yards to supplement the Jeffersonville passing attack. Hines, who scored five touchdowns against New Albany Sept. 28 in Jeff’s 49-12 win, led the Red Devils’ ground game with 131 yards on 19 carries.
The Jeffersonville offense was the beneficiary of three first-half squib kicks that the New Albany kickoff return team was unable to recover because of the wet field conditions. All three recoveries by Jeffersonville led to touchdowns.
“Our special teams weren’t able to adapt, and that hurt us,” New Albany coach Charlie Fields said. “It was really the only time they had let us down in that way this whole year.”
“We didn’t want to kick it deep to them,” Oldham said. “It just kept going off their guys, and that was a stroke of luck. I’ve got a lot of respect for their return team - they have some really good guys back there.”
Fridley finished with 24 of 35 completions for 318 yards and four touchdowns, and Ricky Embry hauled in 10 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
Despite the loss, Fields said his squad had a lot of positives to build on heading towards the 2013 campaign. In his second year as head coach, the Bulldogs improved to 5-5 over 1-9 in 2011.
“I think people came in this season expecting us to be at the bottom (of the Hoosier Hills Conference),” Fields said. “But when you look at it, we lost to a good Jeff team twice, to state-ranked Castle, to Columbus East - all really good teams. There’s no question we improved this season and exceeded a lot of expectations.”
The Red Devils will host Evansville North next week at Blair Field in the sectional semifinal. Most observers couldn’t recall the last time Jeffersonville played North in football, a fact that Oldham said he was ready to dig into.
“I know their colors are green, and that they’re the Huskies, but other than that, I don’t know a whole lot about them,” he said.
CLASS 5A SECTIONAL 8
JEFFERSONVILLE 62, NEW ALBANY 35
Jeffersonville 21 28 6 7—62
New Albany 14 7 0 14 —35
NA — Diehl 44 run (Falcone kick); 7:04, 7-0 NA.
J — Hines 5 run (Fahuwu kick); 5:28, 7-7.
NA — Wright 65 pass from Diehl (Falcone kick); 5:24, 14-7 NA.
J — Hines 9 run (Fahuwu kick); 3:47, 14-14.
J — Embry 12 pass from Fridley (Fahuwu kick); 0:00, 21-14 J.
J — Hines 1 run (Fahuwu kick); 10:56, 28-14 J.
NA — Payton 8 run (Falcone kick); 8:56, 28-21 J.
J — Allen 8 pass from Fridley (Fahuwu kick); 4:41, 35-21 J.
J — Allen 33 pass from Fridley (Fahuwu kick); 3:40, 42-21 J.
J — Adkins 6 pass from Fridley (Fahuwu kick); :13, 49-21 J.
J — Embry 6 pass from Fridley (kick failed); 55-21 J.
NA — Wright 29 pass from Diehl (Falcone kick); 55-28 J.
J — Fridley 27 run (Fahuwu kick); 7:56; 62-28 J.
NA — McClain 80 run (Falcone kick); 62-35 J.
Jeffersonville 37-237 (Hines 19-131, Allen 7-62, Chandler 1-13, Fridley 7-58, Hughes 3-5).
New Albany 21-289 (Payton 11-78, McClain 7-104, Diehl 9-66, Wright 4-32, Falcone 2-20),
Jeffersonville (24-35-318-1): Fridley 24-35-318-1, Lacy 0-1-000-0. New Albany Diehl 7-19-134-1 (7-19-134-1): Diehl: 7-19-134-1.
Jeffersonville: Chandler 2-29, Embry 10-119, Allen 7-86, Adkins 3-54, Hines 2-38. New Albany: Wright 4-104, Payton 2-26, Howard 1-7.