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New Castle takes big loss at Pendleton Heights

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New Castle linebackers Matt Bell (44) and Dylan Beck tackle host Pendleton Heights quarterback Kirby Hess (4) for a loss during Friday night’s HHC football game. This play was one of the few bright spots for the visiting Trojans as they lost to the Arabians 52-7.
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New Castle senior Dakota Durick looks for running room after catchng a pass from quarterback William Grieser during the first half of Friday night’s HHC football game against host Pendleton Heights. Durick grabbed three passes for 28 yards and ran the ball six times for 45 yards in the visiting Trojans’ 52-7 loss to the Arabians.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

PENDLETON — Almost nothing went right for the New Castle High School football team in its Hoosier Heritage Conference opener against host Pendleton Heights Friday night at John Broughton Field.

Not only did the Trojans lose the game to the Arabians 52-7. Starting quarterback William Grieser and lineman D-Ray Ford left the game with injuries and did not return to the contest.

New Castle dropped to 0-1 in the HHC and 1-2 for the season while Pendleton improved to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the conference.

“To say the least, nothing much went right for us tonight,” New Castle Coach Kyle York said after the game. “It was a combination of things on both sides of the ball. Our weaknesses were exposed, and we just need to go back to work in practice and attempt to correct them.”

Don’t look at some of the parameters to explain the lopsided score. The Arabians recorded only five first downs in the contest and did not run a single offensive play in the fourth quarter.

But that didn’t matter as Pendleton scored three touchdowns on drives of one play and blocked a Trojan punt and returned it for another touchdown.

New Castle turned the ball over twice on fumbles and once on an interception, and a bad snap on an attempted punt lost 35 yards and gave the hosts excellent field position deep in New Castle territory.

In addition, three New Castle quarterbacks were tackled for losses or sacked for a combined minus-44 yards. And that doesn’t include the 35-yard loss on the bad snap on the punt.

The Arabians won the opening coin toss and elected to receive the ball. Pendleton moved the football from its own 34 to the Trojan 33-yard line, all on the ground. But a holding penalty moved the pigskin back to the New Castle 39.

On the very next play, Pendleton quarterback Kirby Hess located receiver Tyler McKinley for a touchdown pass. Nick Taylor kicked the extra point and the Arabians led 7-0 with 6:23 remaining in the first quarter.

After that score, the two teams exchanged punts as neither could move the ball.

After the first Pendleton punt, the Trojans recorded two first downs in moving the ball from their 18 to midfield. But three plays lost two yards and moved the ball back to the New Castle 48.

On 4th-and-12, the snap sailed over Trojan punter Skylor Stevenson’s head. Stevenson was able to cover the ball, but the hosts took over possession at the New Castle 13.

On the very next play, Pendleton’s Kamden Earley scampered into the end zone, Taylor kicked the extra point, and the Arabians led 14-0 with 10:48 left in the second quarter.

Except for one Trojan first down, neither side was able to move the ball over the next several possessions, and three punts by New Castle and two by Pendleton followed.

After the third Trojan punt of that sequence, which carried to the New Castle 37-yard line, Earley rumbled into the end zone from that spot on the very next play. Taylor’s kick was wide and the hosts led 20-0 with 3:54 remaining in the first half.

On the Trojans’ next possession, Grieser connected with Kyle Gabbard on a 38-yard pass completion to the Pendleton 41. Dylan Beck ran for 14 yards down to the Arabian 27-yard line.

But on the very next play, Grieser was sacked for a nine-yard loss, fell awkwardly, and left the game. Two plays lost 22 yards and New Castle punted for the fifth time in the first half.

The Arabians generated a first down, but two penalties on them totaling 37 yards set them back and Hess completed a 20-yard pass McKinley as the first half ended.

New Castle had minus-47 yards rushing (including the botched punt snap) in the first half and 83 passing, while Pendleton had 79 yards rushing and 101 passing.

The Trojans received the ball to open the second half but fumbled it away on the third play of the third quarter as the hosts recovered the loose pigskin at the New Castle 14.

Three plays later, Earley ran the ball into the end zone from eight yards out for the TD. The run for the two extra points failed and the Arabians led 26-0 with 8:49 remaining in the third period.

The ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, so the Trojans started their next drive at their 35. On 3rd-and-7, a 10-yard penalty gave New Castle a first down at its 48-yard line.

On another 3rd-and-7 play at the Pendleton 49, freshman quarterback Jon Eberhart completed a 30-yard pass to Brandon Matney down to the Arabian 19-yard line.

On the very next play, Eberhart launched a pass toward the end zone, a Pendleton player intercepted it, flags flew, and the hosts returned the ball to their 35.

Then, one of the strangest sequences this writer has witnessed occurred, as the officials took about five minutes to decide how to handle the play.

After the officials conferred, a pass interference call was assessed against Pendleton, but the ball was moved BACK four yards to the Arabian 23-yard line. So New Castle lost four yards on a penalty called on the hosts.

But no matter. On the very next play, Eberhart connected with Matney, who had Pendleton players hanging on him, for a 23-yard touchdown pass. Stevenson booted the extra point, trimming the Pendleton lead to 26-7 with 5:06 left in the third quarter.

“If there were some positives in this game for us, that was one of the few,” York remarked.

Most of the rest of the game was forgettable for the Trojans except for their final drive of the game.

The Arabians moved 59 yards in six plays for a touchdown on their next possession. Earley carried the ball 31 yards to the visitors’ one-yard line and Hess carried the ball into the end zone on the next play.

Taylor kicked the extra point and the hosts led 33-7 with 2:44 remaining in the third period.

After the kickoff, New Castle ran two plays, fumbled the ball, and the Arabians recovered it at the Trojan nine.

Two holding plays set the hosts back, but Joseph Rios scored on a reverse from 17 yards out, the extra-point kick failed, and Pendleton led 39-7 with 56.5 seconds left in the third quarter.

On the first play after the kickoff, Eberhart’s pass was picked off by the Arabians’ Clay Britt at the host’s 47-yard line. Earley steamrolled 53 yards for the TD on the next play, Taylor booted the extra point, and Pendleton led 45-7 with 26.9 second left in the third period.

Per the IHSAA’s Mercy Rule, a running clock was put into effect for the rest of the game. New Castle got one first down on an Arabian personal foul, three Eberhart passes fell incomplete, and the visitors went back to punt at their 38.

Stevenson’s punt was blocked, Britt scooped up the loose pigskin, and dashed 24 yards into the end zone for Pendleton’s eighth and final TD of the night. Taylor’s kick boosted the Arabian lead to 52-7 with 7:16 left in the game.

The Trojans then put together their best drive of the game in the waning minutes.

Primarily utilizing the running of Dakota Durick and Tytus Ragle, New Castle generated four first downs and moved the football from its own 27 to the Pendleton seven.

But the Trojans were stopped short of the end zone on a 4th-and-goal play, the clock ran out, and the game was history. New Castle hosts Shelbyville this coming Friday. The Golden Bears were manhandled by Delta 85-0 Friday night.

“We just have to bounce back with a good effort next Friday at home against Shelbyville,” York added. “We’re not a team that can take any opponent for granted, and we need to come out ready to play.”

Pendleton Heights 52, New Castle 7

NEW CASTLE 0 0 7 0 - 7

PENDLETON HTS. 7 13 25 7 - 52

Pendleton Hts. – McKinley 39-yard pass from Hess (Taylor kick)

Pendleton Hts. – Earley 13-yard run (Taylor kick)

Pendleton Hts. – Earley 37-yard run (kick failed)

Pendleton Hts. – Earley 8-yard run (run failed)

New Castle – Matney 23-yard pass from Eberhart (Stevenson kick)

Pendleton Hts. – Hess 1-yard run (Taylor kick

Pendleton Hts. – Rios 17-yard run (kick failed)

Pendleton Hts. – Earley 53-yard run (kick failed)

Pendleton Hts. – Britt 24-yard return of blocked punt (Taylor kick)

NC PH

First downs 12 5

Rushes/yards 32-18 31-235

Yards passing 136 101

Passes 9-22-1 6-10-0

Punts 6 3

Fumbles lost 2 0

Penalties/yards 4-55 11-120

Individual Leaders

Rushing

New Castle: Durick 6-45, Ragle 8-34, Beck 6-18; Pendleton Hts.: Earley 14-168, Hess 12-23.

Passing

New Castle: Grieser 7-16-1, 83 and Eberhart 2-6-1, 53; Pendleton Hts.: Hess 6-10-0, 101.

Receiving

New Castle: Matney 3-59, Durick 3-28, Gabbard 2-43; McKinley 3-70, Long 2-15, Earley 1-16.

Records: New Castle 1-2, 0-1 HHC; Pendleton Hts. 2-1, 1-0 HHC.