The New Albany High School football team ran half as many plays as Watkins Memorial and had a hard time getting its speed-oriented game established Oct. 19, but the Eagles broke open a 6-0 halftime lead with 28 consecutive points and cruised to a 34-7 victory in an OCC-Capital Division game.
The win clinched at least a share of a fourth consecutive league championship for New Albany, which improved to 7-2 overall and 6-0 in the OCC-Capital. New Albany can clinch it outright by defeating Mount Vernon at home Oct. 26.
The Eagles, who amassed all of their 326 yards on the ground and attempted only one pass, ran 32 plays to Watkins Memorial’s 63. The Warriors (2-7, 2-4) opened the game with a 14-play, 63-yard drive that took 9 minutes, 18 seconds, but New Albany’s Jake Gigliotti intercepted Ben Shroyer inside the Eagles’ 20.
Watkins Memorial’s plan to slow New Albany was helped by a driving rain that began about three hours before kickoff and lasted until halftime.
“The field conditions played right into their hands,” New Albany coach Mark Mueller said. “We base our game on speed. That’s one of our major plusses. We aren’t the biggest team, but we finally were able to exploit our weapons in the second half.”
O.B. Oppong ran for a 70-yard touchdown with 1:29 to play in the first half to open the scoring, then returned the second-half kickoff 63 yards to set up the Eagles at the Warriors’ 17. Two plays later, Alan Watson scored on a 16-yard run to make it 14-0.
“Guys just figured out how we needed to block in order to run the ball,” Oppong said. “We couldn’t really pass in the rain and our coaches came up with a great scheme for us.”
Leslie Anokye, who had a first-quarter touchdown negated by a block-in-the-back call, broke the game open with a 56-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter and a 66-yard scoring run on the first play of the fourth quarter. He finished with 150 yards on 11 carries.
“They didn’t put together too many big drives but they got some counters in on us,” Watkins Memorial coach Jeff Severino said. “They were good at getting us out of position. Once they hit our secondary, we weren’t going to catch them.”
Brenden Kemp rushed for 158 yards on 40 carries to lead the Warriors, scoring their only touchdown from 5 yards with 5:11 left.
New Albany’s Wyatt Johnston had a 32-yard touchdown run with 2:55 left to cap the scoring.
“We’re just excited for the kids to have this chance to get their fourth consecutive league championship,” Mueller said. “Now we just have to go claim (the title) for ourselves.”
NA--Oppong 70 run (kick failed)
NA--Watson 16 run (Watson run)
NA--Anokye 56 run (kick failed)
NA--Anokye 66 run (Ohlenbrock kick)
WM--Kemp 5 run (Lyon kick)
NA--Johnston 32 run (Yanok kick)