The tone of a Division II, Region 7 first-round playoff game between the Beechcroft High School football team and host New Albany effectively was set within the first seven minutes Nov. 2.
Hoping to have versatile senior quarterback Maurice Hale control the game, whether by running or passing, the fifth-seeded Cougars went three-and-out on the first series.
The fourth-seeded Eagles then drove 62 yards in 12 plays, converting a fourth-and-7 at Beechcroft’s 35-yard line in the process, and senior running back Alan Watson scored the first or his four touchdowns from 9 yards.
New Albany rode that formula to a 25-6 win, intercepting Hale twice and putting the game away by late in the second quarter as Watson added scoring runs of 11, 18 and 8 yards.
“We just tried to contain (Hale) and keep him in the pocket,” Eagles coach Mark Mueller said. “We needed to do that. He’s very good at taking his eyes off his receivers, and his receivers are very good at getting deep behind our linebackers.”
Nick Clemons and Joe Siegenthaler intercepted Hale, and the Eagles (9-2) held the Cougars (8-2) to 47 rushing yards. Led by Watson’s 146 yards on 20 carries, New Albany amassed 233 of its 338 yards on the ground.
“We just played assignment football,” said Clemons, a junior linebacker. “We contained them, went to the ball and did our jobs.”
New Albany will play Dresden Tri-Valley in a regional semifinal Nov. 9. The top-seeded Scotties defeated eighth-seeded New Carlisle Tecumseh 47-29 in a first-round game Nov. 2.
Beechcroft came up empty on an 11-play drive after Watson’s first touchdown, then New Albany needed only three plays to score again. Darron Lee’s 44-yard pass to Siegenthaler set up Watson’s 11-yard score to make it 12-0.
Watson made it 18-0 on an 18-yard run with a minute left in the first half. He added his final touchdown on the first series of the third quarter.
“Basically the holes seemed to open up in places where I could see them with my peripheral vision,” Watson said. “I just hit it right there and gave it my hardest.”
Hale threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Dalaun Young late in the third quarter to break the shutout.
“We killed ourselves a lot tonight with some turnovers and misplays. That’s one of the best teams in the region so we had to play our best game and we didn’t tonight,” Beechcroft coach Bruce Ward said. “We had our work cut out for us. We came out real slow, gave them a couple opportunities and they capitalized.”
NA--Watson 9 run (kick failed)
NA--Watson 11 run (pass failed)
NA--Watson 18 run (pass failed)
NA--Watson 8 run (Quillin kick)
B--Young 27 pass from Hale (kick failed)