The New Albany High School football team's quick-strike ability on offense keyed a 26-10 victory in the opener Friday at Licking Valley.

The New Albany High School football team's quick-strike ability on offense keyed a 26-10 victory in the opener Friday at Licking Valley.

The Eagles, who have won five consecutive games dating to last year, made the most of their limited opportunities. Clinging to a seven-point lead entering the fourth quarter, Kevin Collins pulled in a 61-yard touchdown reception on a quick out play from Bryant Bednarek. Collins raced up the left sideline untouched once he cleared some initial contact for a 23-10 lead to all but put the game out of reach with 6 minutes, 39 seconds remaining.

"I felt guys on my shoulder, and after that I just hit the gas," Collins said. "We can score pretty fast. We've got some explosiveness."

Collins had eight catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns. He set up another score with a long running play, too.

"That's a good football team," Licking Valley coach Randy Baughman said of the Eagles, who also were helped by a pair of long field goals by Jimmy Gammill. "They made some big plays, and they've got the athletes to make those."

Tregg Hall rushed for 140 yards on 22 carries to lead the Panthers, who held better than a 2:1 ration in time of possession. Teammate Alex Ratai caught six passes for 59 yards.

"They did a good job holding the ball and keeping our defense on the field for a long time," New Albany coach Mark Mueller said.

Baughman surprised just about everyone by calling an onside kick to open the game.

The Eagles recovered at the 50, however, and scored a short time later when Bednarek threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Collins for a quick 7-0 lead. They made it 10-0 on Gammill's 43-yard field goal with 7:28 left to play in the second quarter. Gammill also had three kickoffs for touchbacks, and he eventually concluded the scoring with another 43-yard field goal in the waning moments.

The Panthers moved to within 10-3 on Rickey Wilson's 32-yard field goal with 12 seconds remaining in the first half.

New Albany then pulled ahead 17-3 on Alex Hake's 32-yard touchdown run with 7:03 remaining in the third quarter. One play earlier, Collins took the ball out of the backfield on a counter play for 51-yard gain to set up the touchdown.

Licking Valley answered again with Chase Redman's 2-yard touchdown run that capped a 12-play, seven-minute drive with 1:14 left to play in the third quarter to make it 17-10.

NEW ALBANY 7 3 7 9 -- 26

LICKING VALLEY 0 3 7 0 -- 10

NA--Collins 27 pass from Bednarek (Gammill kick)

NA--Gammill 43 FG

LV--Wilson 32 FG

NA--Hake 32 run (Gammill kick)

LV--Redman 2 run (Wilson kick)

NA--Collins 61 pass from Bednarek (kick blocked)

NA--Gammill 43 FG