FORTVILLE — It isn’t the Red Rage defense of 2015 but it doesn’t have to be.
Despite allowing more points this season, Class 5A No. 2 New Palestine’s quick and athletic defense is registering more tackles and interceptions. The Dragons held firm again Friday as they used a dominant first half to top Mt. Vernon, 42-0.
The game was called with 4:46 remaining in the third quarter due to inclement weather.
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New Palestine (4-0, 2-0 HHC) held the Marauders scoreless in the opening half and allowed just 43 rushing yards through two quarters en route to its 31st consecutive regular-season win.
“Our defense was a little bit more than motivated,” Dragons head coach Kyle Ralph said. “We have earned and protected these trophies for so long now.
“What you saw tonight was a very inspired effort by them. Our defense does a very nice job as a whole.”
Dragons’ senior quarterback Gunnar Large threw three touchdown passes in the first half and ran for two more in the game. He was 6 of 11 passing for 180 yards, including a 71-yard strike to sophomore Colby Jenkins in the second quarter. He had 180 yards through the air at halftime and didn’t get much of an opportunity in the second with the delay.
Large’s ninth touchdown toss of the season gave New Palestine a 28-0 lead just before halftime. The Dragons totaled 273 yards of offense in the first half while the Marauders were limited to just 56.
This was the 55th meeting between the New Palestine and Mt. Vernon. The two have played every season since football was created at each school in 1968. The Dragons are now 11-1 in games involving the traveling trophy — a piece of interurban track — dating back to 2005.
New Palestine also currently owns the conference’s longest win streak of 22 games.
Senior running back DuRon Ford added his state-leading 12th touchdown run of the season to begin the scoring for the Dragons, who earned their fifth straight win over the Marauders.
Ford finished with 77 yards in the first half and 120 for the game.
Large’s first touchdown pass of the game was to senior Adam Kincaid, who dashed 17 yards for a 14-0 New Palestine lead with just under a minute left in the first quarter. With his next pass, on the ensuing possession for the Dragons, Large found senior Brady Walden in stride for a 66-yard touchdown.
“We have a lot of weapons and we used them in a lot of different ways tonight,” Ralph said.
Large added a 45-yard scamper for a score after a broken play to give New Palestine a commanding 35-0 advantage just over 30 seconds into the third quarter.
Then he did it again. With 6:27 left in the third, Large broke another big run — again for 45 yards — to all but seal the win for the Dragons.
Large added 105 rushing yards. Friday was also his third consecutive game with three or more touchdown passes.
Marauders (1-3, 1-1 HHC) running back Eric Jones had the biggest play of the game for Mt. Vernon. He busted a 52-yard run in the third quarter, which nearly doubled the team’s offense to that point in the game. Jones finished with 98 rushing yards on 12 carries.
Mt. Vernon junior quarterback Zac Montgomery was held to 4 of 13 passing for 33 yards.
New Palestine will play at Pendleton Heights next Friday while Mt. Vernon travels to Delta.