By KEVIN HARRIS
BEDFORD – Senior running back Darquan Richardson put the New Albany offense in high gear right away, and the Bulldogs did not look back Friday night at Buerk Field.
Richardson rushed for 171 yards and one touchdown to lead New Albany to a 28-14 home win over Jennings County in the Hoosier Hills Conference opener for both teams. The Bulldogs prevailed in rainy and windy conditions on their home turf.
New Albany head coach Steve Cooley was happy to see the Bulldogs bounce back after suffering a 56-49 loss at Class 5A No. 4 Castle the week before.
“I was pleased with the week of practice from our kids and the preparation of our coaching staff to get back on track,” Cooley told Big X Sports Radio WXVW 1450-AM/96.1 FM after Friday’s victory. “We had a great offensive performance last week at Castle. But we struggled on the defensive end and if we felt if we made a couple of defensive adjustments, we might have had a chance to win the game.”
Richardson received the handoff on New Albany’s first offensive play and ran the ball 43 yards to the end zone at the 9:37 mark of the first quarter.
Three minutes later, junior quarterback Dylan Clark extended the Bulldogs’ lead to 14-0 with a 10-yard TD scamper to complete a five-play drive.
The Panthers (1-2) scored the first of their two touchdowns late in the opening period. Jennings County quarterback Justin Rennemeier threw a 56-yard TD pass to teammate Zane Beineke with 28 seconds left in the stanza, trimming the New Albany advantage to 14-7.
The Bulldogs (2-1) hit paydirt twice in the second quarter to go up 28-7 at halftime. Junior running back DeTre Payton had a 5-yard touchdown run and junior wide receiver Devon Gummer received an 11-yard TD strike from Clark. Rennemeier made a 1-yard touchdown run on a quarterback sneak in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring.
Richardson had 169 of his 171 rushing yards in the first half as Cooley rested the standout back for most of the second half.
Clark was 5-of-9 passing for 46 yards. The Bulldogs rushed for 310 yards on 43 carries, while Jennings ran the ball 27 times for 133 yards.
“We got off to a great start and just held on at the end and let some young kids play,” Cooley said. “Jennings County has got a solid football team and Coach (Rick) Zimmerman does a good job there. Their kids played hard tonight in the weather.”
Cooley was pleased to see several of his players make contributions to the victory over the Panthers.
“Darquan Richardson took the first play of the game and went down the field and scored. We had some nice completions from Dylan Clark to Devon Gummer. DeTre Payton got in there at running back,” Cooley said. “We played Austin Oppel, who’s our No. 3 running back right now. He did a great job. He had some key first-down runs for us. He’s a freshman and played really well in the third and fourth quarters for us. We tried to churn the clock out with the conditions and get out of there healthy.”
New Albany will travel to Bedford North Lawrence (3-0, 1-0 HHC) at 7 p.m. next Friday.
“I think we had a better week of preparation this week and we’ve got a big one with Bedford next week,” Cooley said.
Jennings County will host Class 5A No. 5 Columbus East (2-1, 1-0 HHC) at 7 p.m. next Friday.
NEW ALBANY 28, JENNINGS COUNTY 14
Jennings Co. 7 0 0 7-14
New Albany 14 14 0 0-28
NA – Darquan Richardson 43 run (Noah Litzelswope kick), 9:37.
NA – Dylan Clark 10 run (Litzelswope kick), 6:37.
JC – Zane Beineke 56 pass from Justin Rennemeier (Dylan Boswell kick), :28.
NA – DeTre Payton 5 run (Litzelswope kick), 10:11.
NA – Devon Gummer 11 pass from Clark (Litzelswope kick), 2:15.
JC – Rennemeier 1 run (Boswell kick), 4:15.