For The Daily Reporter
PENDLETON — New Palestine’s offense has made a habit of striking fast to put away an opponent in recent seasons.
That explosiveness was evident Friday night, when the Dragons had several game-turning plays in the second and third quarters to break away from Pendleton Heights in a 63-9 victory.
A 79-yard interception return by C.J. Faubion, followed by a 60-yard run by quarterback Gunnar Large helped break the game open, giving NP a three-touchdown lead early in the second quarter and stopping the Arabians’ most promising early possession.
But the dagger came on the final play of the opening half, when New Palestine took over at its own 20 with 12 seconds left, and Large outran the defense for an 80-yard TD to put New Palestine up 35-3. On the first play of the second half, DuRon Ford broke a 90-yard TD run to extend the lead further.
“I’m very pleased with how things went,” New Palestine coach Kyle Ralph said. “We had a very tight game plan. We figured they’d take DuRon away like a lot of people have, and Gunnar had a great first half throwing the ball and had a couple of big runs.
“We showed we have a lot of weapons offensively.”
The Dragons ran for 376 yards, with Ford tallying his third 200-yard game of the season, with 228 and five touchdowns on 20 carries. Large had 134 yards — including TDs of 60 and 80 — and completed 7-of-9 for 108 yards.
Ford now has 17 rushing touchdowns on the season and is closing in on the 1,000-yard mark.
“It’s everybody playing in the system,” Ralph said. “It’s the guys up front having success, Gunnar making the right decisions early and DuRon being unselfish early. Those guys have bought into the system. DuRon and Gunnar have done a nice job working together and with the line.
“We feel the running game is good for us. We want to pound the ball. It’s good to see those guys having success. It’s the guys up front blocking, the guys downfield getting blocks. When we’re successful doing that, everybody has success.”
The Dragon defense and special teams produced points, as well, with Faubion producing the team’s third interception return for a score this season, while Adam Kincaid broke an 84-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter to give the Dragons a season-high in points.
New Palestine’s defense forced the Arabians into 10 punts and allowed just 137 total yards. Pendleton Heights scored late in the second quarter after a blocked punt set the Arabians up on the Dragons’ 21. Thomas Quiroga hit a 21-yard field goal after New Palestine’s defense held from the 4. Corbin Cox had a 2-yard TD run for Pendleton Heights in the fourth. He had 74 yards rushing to lead Pendleton Heights.
“Our defense played very well,” Ralph said.