YORKTOWN — A rocky offensive first half for the Class 5A No. 2 New Palestine Dragons in their first Hoosier Heritage Conference game of the season was overshadowed by their defense and some big offensive plays throughout the game. This led them to a 43-0 shutout of formerly unbeaten 4A Yorktown.
New Palestine came out strong like it normally does, scoring on their first drive with a balanced passing and running game. On the next two possessions, the Dragons uncharacteristically turned it over on fumbles.
“It was not a very clean opening to this game despite what the scoreboard showed early on,” New Palestine head coach Kyle Ralph said.
Ralph said they just had to make better decisions. However, Yorktown made their fair share of mistakes as well.
They fumbled on their second possession then both teams traded off interceptions towards the end of the half.
“They’re young kids and it’s our jobs as coaches to go on film and fix those things so they don’t happen again,” Ralph said.
The youthful team was led by junior Zach Neligh who finished with 177 passing yards and 167 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown.
Sophomore Luke Canfield sprinted for 182 rushing yards and matched last week’s performance with four more rushing touchdowns. Junior Colby Jenkins had four receptions for 107 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown.
“It’s the kids being unselfish and the guys doing the job their asked to do,” Ralph said. “Zach was making the proper reads, Luke was taking the load and letting us figure out what their game plan is.”
After the fumble flip flops, the Dragons powered through for two more touchdowns to start the second quarter.
Their lead only grew in the third, while their defense did what they do best.
“Their offense is hard to stop,” Ralph said. “That quarterback made some big time throws. When he can cover that much ground, it’s pretty hard to stop that. They also had a pretty solid running game that I thought we handled really well tonight.”
The defense kept Yorktown’s offense under 200 yards. A few penalties also hurt the Dragons early on, but Ralph was happy with how the team responded.
“I think overall our kids handled adversity really well,” he said. “They handled penalties really well and they handled some bad situations really well. They bounced back and did a great job of putting the ball in the end zone a lot of different ways.”
The Dragons move to 3-0 on the season and 1-0 in the HHC and will face county and conference rival Mt. Vernon next Friday.