For The Daily Reporter
LAWRENCEBURG — On the drive back from Lucas Oil Stadium fresh off a state title in November, the New Palestine football team was starting to talk about 2015.
The Dragons showed it Friday, scoring on four of their first five possessions and getting an early defensive score en route to a 56-14 victory against Lawrenceburg in the season-opener.
Quarterback Alex Neligh made a quick impact, rushing for 2- and 24-yard touchdowns, and then leading two quick drives late in the half, capping in two touchdown passes to Brett Luker, giving New Palestine a 35-7 lead at halftime.
New Palestine did more of the same in the second half, with Neligh capping a five-play drive to open the half with his third touchdown run of the day, and Nick Brickens picked off a pass at the New Palestine 10 and ran it back 65 yards to set up another score, putting New Palestine up 49-7 in the third.
Neligh was 8 for 11 for 122 yards passing and had 83 yards rushing in the contest. His five touchdowns gives him 52 for his career, second-most in New Palestine history.
The Red Rage also got in on the act quickly. Adam Kincaid snatched a pass and ran it back 40 yards for a touchdown early in the second, giving New Palestine a 21-0 lead.
The Dragons dominated up front, allowing linebackers Joe Izbicki and Brickens to hold Lawrenceburg’s offense to seven points through three quarters. Both Brickens and Kincaid had interceptions as the Dragons were plus-2 in the turnover ratio.
Lawrenceburg quarterback Reid Strobl was 15 of 27 for 233 yards and two touchdowns in his first start. He was also picked off twice by the Dragon defense, which conceded 16 first downs to the Tiger offense, but forced Lawrenceburg to drive several long fields. The Tigers started seven of their 10 possessions inside their own 20.
New Palestine was solid offensively, running for 199 yards, with Brickens rushing for 67 yards and Kincaid 52 on six carries each, and Neligh 83 yards. Neligh completed passes to five different receivers, with Luker’s three catches for 52 yards leading the way.
The Dragons return to Kelso Stadium next Friday to face Richmond for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.