The New Albany High School football team capitalized on four first-half fumbles and cruised to a 45-20 win over host Hilliard Bradley in the OCC-Capital Division opener for both teams Friday, Sept. 16.
“Turnovers definitely helped us out a lot,” said New Albany receiver Kevin Collins, whose team improved to 3-1. “We feed off momentum and momentum definitely helped us a lot. They scored on us pretty quick. That's why for our offense the turnovers were key.”
New Albany turned three of the fumbles into touchdowns, including a 59-yard pass from quarterback Zach Tomi to Collins with 39 seconds left before halftime for a 31-7 lead.
The touchdown pass was Tomi's second of the half. He also connected with Adam Bodrick on an 8-yard pass to help make it 24-7. That drive started at Bradley's 27-yard line after Ty Howard recovered a fumble by Jaguars running back Eric Bridgett. New Albany's Connor Wilson, who had touchdown runs of 16 and 8 yards in the first half, forced the fumble.
Bradley opened the game with a six-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by a 9-yard touchdown run by Terell Stanford. Bradley running back Blake Scipio had 49 yards on the drive of all running plays.
The Jaguars drove 80 yards in 16 plays for a touchdown on their first possession of the second half. A 26-yard touchdown catch by Bridgett made it 38-13 with 3:57 left in the third quarter.
The drive wasn't enough to overcome the momentum of a 96-yard kickoff return by Collins to open the second half.
Bradley seemed to have all the momentum in the first quarter with Scipio rushing seven times for 54 yards. New Albany adjusted to Scipio's inside runs and started going after the ball to force fumbles.
“They did a good job of first-man wrap, second-man strip,” said Bradley coach Mike LoParo, whose team fell to 3-1. “That was done very well by all of them. It seemed like every chance they had they were clawing that ball out.”
The Jaguars still managed to rush for more than 200 yards, led by Scipio, who had 23 carries for 178 yards and a touchdown. Jaguars quarterback Connor Driscoll was 6-of-13 passing for 102 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Tomi was 4-of-6 passing for 96 yards and a touchdown. Wilson led the Eagles in rushing with six carries for 56 yards.
“We had that little burp at the beginning of the game,” New Albany coach Mark Mueller said. “I think our kids made some adjustments and they did a good job of adjusting to their speed.”
NEW ALBANY 10 21 7 7 -- 45
HILLIARD BRADLEY 7 0 13 0 – 20
HB--Stanford 9 run (Gates kick)
NA--Gammill 39 FG
NA--Wilson 16 run (Gammill kick)
NA--Wilson 8 run (Gammill kick)
NA--Bodrick 5 pass from Tomi (Gammill kick)
NA--Collins 59 pass from Tomi (Gammill kick)
NA--Collins 96 kickoff return
HB--Bridgett 17 pass from Driscoll (Gates kick)
HB--Scipio 6 run (kick missed)
NA--George 11 pass from Lee (Gammill kick)