NEW PALESTINE — After a scoreless first quarter, New Palestine shifted into second gear.
The Dragons went 3-for-3 on second-quarter offensive possessions, including the first two of five Daniel Tippit touchdown passes, and turned a tight game into a three-touchdown lead.
The unbeaten top-ranked Class 4A Dragons went on to defeat No. 10 Greenfield-Central 42-7 in a battle of Hancock County and Hoosier Heritage Conference rivals at Kelso Stadium Friday.
The Dragons are 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the HHC. The Cougars dropped to 4-2 and 2-2.
The second quarter has been good to the Dragons all season. It had been their most productive quarter (81 points) coming into Friday’s matchup with the Cougars.
It was the fifth time in six games the Dragons had scored at least two second-quarter touchdowns. It was also the third time they scored 21 points in the period.
For the second straight week, Tippit had a big night throwing the football. His record-tying night escalated in the final two quarters.
After a four-touchdown performance in a 42-14 win at Pendleton Heights last week, Tippit threw for five scores against the Cougars. He connected twice with Blaine Nunnally and once each with Kyler Kropp, Ty Mitchell and Cameron Rollyson.
“We have great communication across the board. Our receivers rely on information we see with our cornerbacks and Tippit knows the box better than anyone I’ve met,” Nunnally said. “He knows what plays to call to get us open. It’s kind of on us to make plays for him.
“We know that the ball is going to be there on point every time. We can focus on running crisp routes.”
The five touchdown passes tied a school record, last done in 2014 by Alex Neligh, who is now the Dragons quarterbacks coach. Tippit, unofficially, went 18 of 25 for 208 yards.
“We just kind of woke up a little bit (after the first quarter),” Tippit said. “We were trying to figure some things out and had a few problems. We got those things fixed and we were good.
“I love (getting the ball to a lot of receivers). Everybody deserves to have the ball”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Dragons got on the board with the first play of the second.
From the Greenfield-Central 31, two plays after a 20-yard punt return by Isaiah Thacker, Grayson Thomas had his longest run of the night to give the Dragons the lead. Brendan Tanksley added the PAT.
Thomas had a big game on the ground, too. He finished, unofficially, with 20 carries for 160 yards.
New Palestine sophomore linebacker Alex Guhl recovered a fumble on Greenfield-Central’s ensuing series. The Cougars had reached the Dragons 32 prior to losing possession. The Dragons capitalized with an 11-play, 66-yard drive culminating in a Tippit to Nunnally 15-yard touchdown pass.
After Eli Hook’s second blocked punt of the game, New Pal took over on the G-C 34. Thomas ran for 20 yards on the first play. Tippit found Thacker for a 7-yard gain, then hit Kyler Kropp for a 7-yard score for a 21-0 lead with just 46 seconds left until halftime.
“We made some explosive plays on offense, hit some big passes and had the one run,” New Palestine head coach Kyle Ralph said. “We just made a couple plays (in the second quarter). We, flat out, didn’t execute in the first quarter. They came out made some plays in space and stopped us. We stopped ourselves, too, but kept pluggin away.”
The Cougars played short-handed, missing a number of key starters. They were without sophomore starting quarterback Dallas Freeman, running back Andrew Zellers receiver/defensive back Owen Anderson and linebacker Brodie Mayberry, a former starting quarterback in coach Travis Nolting’s Wishbone offense.
It was the second straight week the team has started running back Brayden Herrell at quarterback. He threw a touchdown pass to Kirk Knecht for the Cougars lone score. The second-half connection cut New Palestine’s lead to 28-7.
The win was New Palestine’s 12th straight against G-C. The Cougars last win came in 2010, avenging a 32-0 regular-season loss with a 7-0 victory in a sectional semifinal contest.
It was also New Palestine’s 11th straight regular-season game victory.
It was the fourth time in six games the Dragons have defeated a state-ranked opponent. Westfield (6A No. 4/6), Decatur Central (5A No. 2), Mt. Vernon (4A No. 9/10) and Greenfield-Central (4A No. 9/10) were all listed in Indiana Football Coaches Associated and Associated Press polls. Three of the wins – Westfield, Decatur Central and Greenfield-Central – were at Kelso Stadium.
The Dragons are back on the road next week at Shelbyville. Greenfield-Central has a home game against Yorktown. Both are 7 p.m. start times.