GREENFIELD — For a brief moment Friday night, it looked as if Class 5A No. 2 New Palestine might be in for a fight. However, the Dragon onslaught on both sides of the ball proved to be too much for Greenfield-Central, and the Dragons defeated the Cougars 59-3.
With eight minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Cougars had just kicked a field goal to cut the deficit to 10-3 and a New Palestine fake punt was stopped on the ensuing possession. Unfortunately for the Cougars, the Dragons would score touchdowns on their next six possessions to end any glimmering hopes of an upset.
“[Greenfield-Central] really came out ready to play tonight,” New Palestine coach Kyle Ralph said afterwards. “We tried to respect [GC’s] passing attack early, but they were still making completions, so we changed some things up and were able to start getting some pressure on the quarterback.”
The Dragons took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter after a 35-yard field goal by sophomore Alex Kropp and one-yard plunge by sophomore running back Eric Canfield.
Story continues below gallery
Canfield finished the contest with 69 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
However, the Cougars were moving the ball early with quick passes to their receivers. Senior receiver Mike Hoskins continued his solid season by hauling in nine catches for 102 yards.
After stopping the fake punt however, the Cougars had problems with its punt unit and the Dragons capitalized. Two bad snaps on punts in a row for the Cougars gave New Palestine the ball inside the thirty-yard line.
On those possessions, quarterback Zach Neligh was able to run for touchdowns to give the Dragons a 24-3 halftime lead. Neligh would finish the game with 124 yards rushing, 134 yards passing, and four total touchdowns.
“We’re starting three freshmen on the offensive line and that really showed once New Pal started rushing the quarterback pretty heavily,” Cougars coach Adam Sherman said afterwards.
The Dragons would score again on another short field to start the third quarter and the rout was on. In the third quarter, all four Greenfield-Central possessions ended in turnovers. All in all, four New Palestine touchdowns came on drives of less than 30 yards.
“We had some pretty huge errors on special teams and that put our defense in some awful situations,” Sherman said. “Especially compared to what I saw against this team last year, I thought our defense played pretty well.”
The victory moves the Dragons to 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the HHC, while Greenfield-Central falls to 2-4 and 1-3 in the conference.
New Palestine will host Shelbyville next week and Ralph is prepared for a championship atmosphere.
“The last two seasons our games against Shelbyville have basically decided the conference championship, so we are going to treat this week as championship-level preparation and look to win it again,” Ralph said.