Saturday, August 19, 2017

FOOTBALL: Despite penalties, Bulldogs blank Pioneers 34-0 in Cooley’s NA debut

Special to Southern Indiana Preps
NEW ALBANY—New Albany had a penalty problem at Buerk Field against Providence on Friday night. But in the end, the Bulldogs seemed much less fazed by opening-game jitters than did their guests.
The charges of coach Steve Cooley knuckled down on defense and presented him with a shutout win in his first game at the helm of the Bulldogs, 34-0. It was the season opener for both teams.
“We were calm, they were ready and the kids were focused. It’s a great win for New Albany against a good team,” said Cooley, who took a year off from being a head coach last year after spending time at Jeffersonville and Clarksville. Cooley was the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator last season.
For Providence, some untimely turnovers, lack of execution and an inability to turn New Albany mistakes into something meaningful spelled its doom. The Pioneers accumulated just 89 total yards for the game.
Numerous New Albany penalties — some of which turned around huge gains and even a touchdown — gave the Pioneers opportunities, but they amounted to nothing. The Bulldogs amassed 105 yards from flags.
“We had first-game jitters in a lot of ways,” said Providence coach Larry Denison. “They made some mistakes, and we couldn’t capitalize on them.
“We’re a better team than we showed tonight. The kids know that, the coaching staff knows that. We’ve got to be better executing than we did.”
Providence received the opening kickoff, but went four-and-out. New Albany promptly scored on its first possession, covering 60 yards in seven plays. Bulldog running back Darquan Richardson found the end zone from 2 yards out to score the season’s first touchdown. On the series, Richardson carried the ball five times for 14 yards, and he also connected with quarterback Dylan Clark on a reception for 17 yards.
New Albany’s defense bottled up the Providence offense the entire night, effectively shutting down the Pioneers’ main offensive weapon, Kaden Williams.
Providence earned only two first downs in the first half. Williams, meanwhile, was held to right at 50 yards for the night, with the bulk of those coming on a 38-yard run.
“I was pleased with our game management for Game 1,” said Cooley. “Our defense did a really good job on Williams. He’s a good little player. He got around us once or twice, but we did a pretty good job on him overall.”
A 42-yard punt return by New Albany’s Devon Gummer put the ball at the Providence 29-yard line, and set up the second New Albany score. After a 20-yard-run by Richardson, Clark hooked up with RJ Johnson in the end zone, making the score 13-0 with 5:47 to play in the second period.
A 30-yard pick six by Luke Kaiser put the Bulldogs up 20-0 with 2:07 remaining in the first half.
New Albany presented the Pioneers with plenty of second chances and opportunities due to penalties, but Providence could not generate anything.
The Bulldogs’ DeTre Payton and Richardson each damaged Providence, with Payton accumulating 105 yards on the ground and Richardson 85. Payton also had a 52-yard run reversed by a holding call, one of the numerous occasions the Pioneers benefitted from penalties.
After a scoreless third quarter, a play happened in the fourth quarter that seemed to seal Providence’s fate and New Albany’s victory. A Pioneer punt had the Bulldogs with their backs to the end zone at their own 3.
On the first play, though, Richardson rambled 70 yards to the Providence 27. Three plays later, Richardson ground out a 14-yard touchdown run to make the score 27-0 after the extra point at the 10:13 mark.
The final score came with 7:22 remaining in the game when the Bulldogs’ Koran Givens picked up a Providence fumble and carried it 40 yards to the end zone.
“Hopefully, we can use this as a learning lesson and go forward,” said Denison. “We made too many mistakes for a young team.”
New quarterback Joe Denis had difficulty for the Pioneers.
“Joe played like he was making his first start,” said Denison. “He hasn’t played quarterback for a long time. He’s going to get better. He just needs the reps. We’ve got a lot of faith in Joe.”
The 34-0 win was the first shutout for New Albany since 2013 when it blanked Bedford North Lawrence 48-0.
“We’re just going to get better and better and come out against Castle (next Friday),” said Cooley.
The Bulldogs’ meeting with the Knights will be at Castle Stadium, starting at 8 p.m. EDT. Providence will travel to Floyd Central at 7 p.m. next Friday.

Providence         0   0 0   0–  0
New Albany       6 14 0 14–34

First quarter
NA – Darquan Richardson 2 run (run failed), 7:24.
Second quarter
NA – RJ Johnson 9 pass from Dylan Clark (Noah Litzelswope kick), 5:47.
NA – Luke Kaiser 30 interception return (Litzelswope kick), 2:07.
Fourth quarter
NA – Richardson 14 run (Litzelswope kick), 10:13.
NA – Koran Givens 40 fumble recovery (Litzelswope kick), 7:22.

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