By Andrew Smith
For The Daily Reporter
RICHMOND – After trading big plays with Richmond, it took one spark from the New Palestine defense to get going.
When Adam Kincaid stepped in front of a pass and ran it back 55 yards midway through the second quarter, the Class 5A second-ranked Dragons seized momentum and pulled away in a 49-32 victory over the host Red Devils Friday at Lyboult Field.
And they carried that momentum through a two-plus-hour weather delay that stopped play just after Kincaid’s second pick, allowing the Dragons to start their final possession of the half.
They finished it with a strike from quarterback Gunnar Large to wideout Brett Luker – one of Large’s three touchdowns on the day – to take a 35-20 lead at halftime, and extended it to 42-20 on DuRon Ford’s third touchdown in the third quarter.
“The kids followed the motto of the week – you can’t control what happens, but you can control your attitude and how you react to what happens,” NP coach Kyle Ralph said. “We come out, after a long lightning delay and execute a perfect two-minute drill, which was huge. That’s what we’re looking for, is winning those small battles.”
Kincaid, who was slated as the Dragons’ starting running back going into the year, but yielded the job to DuRon Ford, finished the night with 115 yards receiving, 39 yards rushing, a touchdown on offense and the pick-six on defense.
“He’s been a team player for four years now. He’s a team captain. He’s earned the feature running back job, but what our team needs is for him to not be the feature running back, to play different positions,” Ralph said of Kincaid. “What our team needs, he’s playing starting slot for us for the first time since the state championship, and focusing on defense and our special teams. The game plan for him was what happened. He had a touchdown, two interceptions on defense. He did what the team needed, and he had a fantastic game.”
Kincaid’s interception came after the Dragons and Red Devils had traded scores and big plays. An 82-yard run by the Red Devils’ Juwan Claiborne was answered by a 65-yard pass from Gunnar Large to Kincaid on the next play. Richmond answered with a 97-yard kickoff return by Ron Sanders, which gave the Red Devils a 20-14 lead.
Ford capped off a Dragon drive with a touchdown to give the Dragons the lead for good, leading to the pick-six three plays later that turned the tide in the Dragons’ favor.
Large completed 12 of 17 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns – to Kincaid, Luker and Brady Walden, directing an offense that totaled 492 yards. Ford ran for 149 yards and three touchdowns. Richmond gained 351 yards, led by Claiborne’s 192 on the ground.
The Dragons return home next Friday to face Yorktown in the Hoosier Heritage Conference opener.