By KEVIN HARRIS
NEW ALBANY —
In another Jeffersonville-New Albany nailbiter on Friday night at Buerk Field, it was the Bulldogs who came out on top this time.
It was New Albany’s first victory over the rival Red Devils since 2010, winning 33-26. It was also Bulldog coach Charlie Fields’ first win over Jeff since he became head coach in 2011. New Albany extended its lead in the series to 49-35-5.
Donan put the Bulldogs (5-2, 4-1 Hoosier Hills Conference) up 7-0 with 1:58 remaining in the first quarter when he made a 1-yard touchdown on a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-goal. The score concluded a 13-play, 60-yard drive.
The New Albany lead grew to 10-0 at the 9:52 mark of the second quarter when senior place-kicker Vincent Falcone nailed a 44-yard field goal.
On the Red Devils’ next series, Jeff coach Lonnie Oldham switched quarterbacks, replacing starter Jamal Britt with freshman Cameron Northern.
The switch gave the Devils a much-needed lift.
On third play of the possession, Northern hit sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Blanton with a deep pass along the right sideline for a 68-yard touchdown pass with 8:43 remaining in the first half to cut Jeff’s deficit to 10-7.
But the Bulldogs took no time to answer Northern’s deep bomb.
On third-and-5 at the New Albany 39-yard line, Donan connected with senior wideout Ravon Wright on a 61-yard scoring toss to give New Albany a 16-7 advantage. But after making the long field goal earlier, Falcone missed the extra-point kick wide right at the 7:59 mark.
A Jeff miscue set up the Bulldogs’ next TD.
On fourth-and-13 at the Jeff 23, Red Devil punter Dalton Atkins caught a low snap, but his knee went down at the Jeff 10, giving the ball back to New Albany.
Three plays on third-and-2, Bulldog senior running back Tuwan Payton dove into the end zone from 2 yards out with 5:36 left in the quarter to increase the lead to 23-7.
But a seldom-used wideout helped the Red Devils get back into the game.
On fourth-and-10 at the New Albany 27, junior Chris Campbell made a 27-yard TD reception from Northern to pull Jeff to within 23-13 with 1:57 left in the first half. Red Devil kicker Fahuwu Momoh missed the extra-point attempt wide left.
The Red Devils then recovered an onside kick to get the ball back at the New Albany 44.
After two consecutive runs for 16 yards by Jeff running back Austin Hines, Northern connected with Campbell again on a 28-yard TD toss to slice New Albany’s lead to 23-20 at the 1:02 mark. Entering the game, Campbell had only made one reception this season for 23 yards.
Jeff (4-3, 3-2) took its only lead of the contest with 4:56 remaining in the third quarter. On third-and-11, Hines caught a screen pass from Northern and hit paydirt from 24 yards out to give put Jeff up 26-23.
But on the point-after try, Momoh picked up a low snap that the holder could not control and tried to reach into the end zone. But Momoh was stopped on a helmet-to-helmet hit by a Jeff defender to prevent a two-point conversion.
New Albany bounced back, though. With 2:32 remaining in the third, Falcone nailed his second 44-yard field goal of the night from the same spot on the left hashmark to tie the game at 26.
Then on second-and-7, a Northern pass got deflected by New Albany senior Ethan Atkins and landed in the arms of Bulldog senior defensive back Jeffontae McClain at the Jeff 38. McClain returned the ball near the Jeff goal line, but fumbled the ball. However, New Albany senior Cameron Mason recovered the fumble in the end zone to give the Bulldogs a seven-point lead.
In the fourth, Jeff got the ball inside New Albany territory on its final two possessions. But Northern got picked off both times. One interception was by Bulldog junior Nick Haley and the second by Payton.
Both teams will play next Friday. Jeff will host Class 4A No. 1 Columbus East, while New Albany will travel to Seymour.
NEW ALBANY 33, JEFFERSONVILLE 26
Jeffersonville 0 20 6 0—26
New Albany 7 16 10 0—33
NA — Zach Donan 1 run (Vincent Falcone kick), 1:58.
NA — Falcone 44 FG, 9:52.
J — Isaiah Blanton 68 pass from Cameron Northern (Fahuwu Momoh kick), 8:43.
NA — Ravon Wright 61 pass from Donan (kick failed), 7:59.
NA — Tuwan Payton 2 run (Falcone kick), 5:36.
J —Chris Campbell 27 pass from Northern (kick failed), 1:57.
J — Campbell 28 pass from Northern (Momoh kick), 1:02.
J — Austin Hines 24 pass from Northern (kick failed), 4:56.
NA — Falcone 44 FG, 2:32.
NA — Cameron Mason fumble recovery in end zone (Falcone kick), 1:05.