NEW CASTLE — Under a nearly picture-perfect sky on Saturday afternoon, the New Castle Trojans let it rain.
Quarterback Niah Williamson passed for 500 yards and five touchdowns, while rushing for another, as the Trojans rolled to a 56-36 homecoming victory against Hoosier Heritage Conference foe Mt. Vernon.
New Castle (4-3, 3-2 HHC) scored 35 points or more for a sixth time this season and surpassed the 40-point mark for a fifth week en route to its third win in four tries.
Mt. Vernon (2-5, 1-4 HHC) attempted to keep pace with the Trojans, who are averaging 45.7 points per game, by tying the game at 7-7 before trailing by one possession twice.
However, they had no answer for Williamson, who had racked up 2,402 yards passing and 31 touchdowns through six games before kickoff on Saturday.
“They do a really good job, and against a team like that you can’t give them free points,” Mt. Vernon head coach Neil Kazmierczak said. “We gave up a kickoff return, an interception; you can’t spot them 14 points. They already have enough offense.”
The Marauders’ miscues in the second quarter pushed the Trojans margin to 14 points twice with the Marauders holding the gap to seven points before the game slipped from their grasp.
New Castle opened the game by scoring on their initial drive, capped by a 27-yard touchdown pass from Williamson to their playmaker Luke Bumbalough. The junior wide receiver finished with 15 receptions for 273 yards and three touchdowns.
The tandem connected on a 13-yard slant pattern in the second quarter to put New Castle ahead 14-7 and pushed the lead to 35-14 with a 68-yard strike in the first half’s final minute.
Williamson also rushed for a touchdown in the third quarter to increase the Trojans’ lead to 49-21. The senior now has 2,902 yards passing, 36 passing touchdowns, 138 yards rushing and six touchdowns on the season.
“I thought we did a heck of a job hitting him all day long, but he did a good job of staying in there because he took a lot of shots,” Kazmierczak remarked on his defense’s effort. “You have to give him props for being a tough kid.”
The Marauders responded to the Trojans up-tempo passing attack early, tying the game 7-7 behind a 48-yard touchdown pitch-and-catch from Tyson Harley to Braxton Trittipo on their first drive.
Mt. Vernon fell behind 21-7 after New Castle’s Caleb Clauson returned a pick-six off Harley 22 yards early in the second quarter. Harley recovered on the ensuing series, connecting with Cole Schneider for a 67-yard touchdown pass.
“We felt strong and I thought we looked strong, but it just turned around on us,” Mt. Vernon junior defensive lineman Max Burhenn said. “He’s a really good quarterback, and I’m pretty sure he’s up there in the nation in passing yards. I respect him. He’s good.”
Bumbalough demanded the same respect by adding a 99-yard kickoff return touchdown to give New Castle a 28-14 lead, which ballooned to 28 and 35 points in the second half.
Williamson had two touchdown passes exceed 60 yards with a third-quarter dart to Nicholas Grieser going for 61 yards over the top and in stride to put New Castle up 42-14.
“It’s really difficult to defend our offense when he gets rolling,” New Castle head coach Kyle York said. “When Niah can spread it around to different guys, it’s tough to stop.”
The Marauders continued to push forward despite the uphill climb, forcing a fumble, nabbing a fumble recovery, a key turnover on downs in third quarter and picking off backup quarterback Logan Cline twice.
The second pick was returned 86 yards by Chase Goodwin for a Marauders touchdown to bring the score to 56-28.
Harley completed 19 of 28 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns while throwing two interceptions. The running game netted 102 yards with Eric Jones rushing for 47 and a touchdown. Justice Hill ran for 28 yards and a score on Mt. Vernon’s final possession.
“We still have a lot of work to do,’ Kazmierczak remarked after the game.
“You always have to learn from it, watch the film and understand what we need to do,” Burhenn added. “We have to work from there.”
The Class 4A Marauders travel to HHC foe 4A Shelbyville this Friday, while 4A New Castle faces the daunting task of trying to derail the unbeaten 5A No. 2 New Palestine Dragons (7-0, 5-0 HHC) in another conference matchup.
“They are a great football team. They have a mental advantage over every team they play because they come with an edge that really is not brought to many high school football games,” York remarked on New Palestine. “I think we have an offense, when clicking, that can be really good, but when you’re as good as New Pal is, it doesn’t matter what you do. They have guys ready at every level. They’ve got a program established.”
New Castle 56, Mt. Vernon 36
MV (2-5, 1-4 HHC);7;7;7;15;—;36
NC (4-3, 3-2 HHC);7;28;14;7;—;56
NC — Luke Bumbalough 27-yard pass from Niah Williamson (Carter Brown kick), 9:21
MV — Braxton Trittipo 48-yard pass from Tyson Harley (Trevor Bond kick), 6:02
NC — Bumbalough 13-yard pass from Williamson (Brown kick), 11:09
NC — Caleb Clauson 22-yard interception return (Brown kick), 10:27
MV — Cole Schneider 67-yard pass from Harley (Bond kick), 8:48
NC — Bumbalough 99-yard kick return (Brown kick), 8:33
NC — Bumbalough 68-yard pass from Williamson (Brown kick), 35.7
NC — Nicholas Grieser 61-yard pass from Williamson (Brown kick), 8:57
MV — Eric Jones 4-yard run (Bond kick), 1:51
NC — Williamson 3-yard run (Brown kick), 30.2
NC — Triston Chesher 7-yard pass from Williamson (Brown kick), 10:27
MV — Chase Goodwin 86-yard interception return (Bond kick), 1:26
MV — Justice Hill 1-yard run (2-point run), 15.6