NEW PALESTINE — The New Palestine Dragons enter every season with big goals, but the top priority en route to a late November finish always begins at home.
On Friday night, the Class 5A No. 2 Dragons charged out from their opening possession, scoring eight touchdowns to pummel Hoosier Heritage Conference foe Yorktown 55-7.
The win marked New Palestine’s 19th consecutive on their home field at Kelso Stadium and the 21st in the HHC, which broke the former league record set by the Dragons in 2009-11.
“That’s one of our biggest things, keeping the Helmet, keeping the conference streak alive,” New Palestine head coach Kyle Ralph said. “We want to protect our home field. Mission accomplished.”
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The Dragons (3-0, 1-0 HHC) left little doubt the HHC’s traveling Helmet trophy would remain in New Palestine after running off to a 42-0 lead by halftime.
Senior running back DuRon Ford put the stamp on the night with four rushing touchdowns and 240 yards on 28 carries. The shifty and powerful back broke runs of 33 and 20 yards, and he came prepared to lower his shoulder pads for the short ones as well.
His first score capped the team’s six-play opening drive, which spanned 66 yards in 2 minutes and 17 seconds. Following his 5-yard touchdown, the tacked on a 1-yarder and broke free for a 33-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to put New Palestine up 49-0.
The run was just the second play of the Dragons’ first drive of the second half, but despite the two-play series only taking 24 seconds, it wasn’t the quickest.
That honor went to senior quarterback Gunnar Large in the first quarter. Large completed 7 of 10 passes for 155 yards and three touchdowns and one interception.
His first scoring strike went for 85 yards to Brady Walden, who streaked in a blur down the sideline to put the Dragons ahead 14-0 during a 15-second, one-play drive. Walden caught three passes for 97 yards.
“Our kids were very prepared. We finally got a full week of practice in and our kids showed it,” Ralph said. “DuRon was outstanding, but the guys in front of him were doing their job. Everyone did their job. Everyone did their part to make it work, and that’s what I’m most proud of.”
Large’s other touchdown passes went to Brett Luker on an 8-yarder in the second quarter. His last one went to Colby Jenkins in the for 36 yards late in the first half.
The Dragons scored on eight of 11 possession, and when they made a mistake, the defense rose to the occasion.
The Dragons picked off Yorktown’s Brogan Miller four times, including a acrobatic tipped pass pick in the end zone by CJ Faubion with the Tigers (1-2, 0-1 HHC) threatening, just five yards from pay dirt, midway through the first quarter.
Faubion also recorded a sack, while Josh Glover had a sack, a fumble recovery and an interception. Adam Kincaid grabbed another Dragons pick off a tip and Adam Brickens recorded the final takeaway late in the game.
The Tigers only touchdown unfolded after the Dragons starters left the field in the fourth quarter. Dawson Allen ran for a 3-yard touchdown with 8:58 left in the game.
“We’ve been looking for the clean ups on defense, and we’ve been looking for those to improve each week,” Ralph said. “We wanted to show the type of defense we know we can be. It was nice to finally put a fairly mistake free game together.”