Big Red must move on from home defeat immediately
STEUBENVILLE — There are times in athletic events when all one really can do is tip its hat to the other guy.
Such was the case Friday after New Philadelphia rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit to stun Big Red, 28-21, in a battle of unbeatens inside Harding Stadium.
“That’s three games now where we didn’t do a good job finishing,” Big Red’s Reno Saccoccia said after watching his team fall to 3-1. “Coach (Matt) Dennison had his players ready, and I didn’t have my players ready — I didn’t do my part. My players played hard for four quarters. We made a lot of mistakes (in addition to two costly second-half turnovers, the hosts also drew 12 flags for 85 yards), but that starts with me.
“If you had 100 perfect kids, you wouldn’t need a coach. When it’s 21-21 or you are trailing 28-21, that’s when coaching comes in. Coach Dennison did his part tonight, and I didn’t do my part.”
The 4-0 Quakers, who now lead their all-time series with Big Red 6-5-1, had four turnovers in the first half, three resulting in Steubenville touchdowns.
New Philadelphia fumbled on its first play from scrimmage, with Isaiah McCartney recovering. A couple of snaps later, senior tailback Tayveon Crawford found the end zone from 3 yards away.
Cian Montgomery pounced on the next Quaker fumble, and this time Crawford sprinted 17 yards to the house. On the scoring jaunt, Crawford benefited from a huge downfield block by Stone Biacco. Noah Howarth’s recovery led to Big Red’s third touchdown, which came on an 11-yard Crawford run. He appeared to be stopped at the line of scrimmage, but somehow squirted through the line and raced to the goal.
Jared Roberts nailed his three conversion tries for Big Red.
New Philadelphia’s lone first-half score came on a 25-yard pass from Baron May to Sam Zemis. The Quakers did threaten before the half, but the drive was stopped when Big Red’s Randy Mitchell made a nifty interception of a May aerial.
“Turnovers, oh boy,” Dennison said. “We had three that resulted in three scores for them. You know we had a couple of new guys playing running back because our starter got hurt last week. We fumbled the ball away a few times, and we weren’t really happy.
“But, I’ll tell you our defense was playing tough in the first half. They had to fight for everything they got. We felt good at halftime. Coming out of half, we knew we had to get a stop. We did, and then we made it 21-14. All of a sudden, our defense got a little mojo going, and good things happened for us.”
In the second half, it was Big Red that was hurt by turnovers. The Quakers made it 21-14 when May scrambled for a 9-yard score. His run came following an interception by Drew Dummermuth. Reise Meechan pulled the guests even with his 3 yard run. .
The game-winning score came on a May 1-yard plunge. It was set up by Lewis Feik’s recovery of a Big Red fumble.
Elliot Warner connected on all four of his conversion tries for New Philadelphia.
“That was a great win — a big program win,” Dennison said. “You know, it’s a character thing. I told our kids 99 out of 100 teams down 14 to this team in its house aren’t going to come back.
“Our kids were resilient, and they fought. We talked all week about staying the course, believing in what we were doing and fighting like crazy. Tonight, our kids did it.”
Field position also played a huge role in Big Red’s second-half offensive problems. Three of six possession started inside the 10. Two began at the 20 thanks to touchbacks on kickoffs.
“We just had very bad field position in the second half, and that’s hard to overcome,” Saccoccia said. “One time it was a kickoff we didn’t field, and another time it was a punt. We have to do a better job in those areas. We lost field position because of all three aspects — offense, defense and special teams.
“We played hard defensively, and we forced turnovers. Both teams took advantage of their opportunities off turnovers. We played hard. He had his players ready, and I didn’t have my guys ready. They played for 48 minutes, and we played for 48 minutes, but I didn’t do my part.”
May, the Eastern Michigan commit, finished with 209 yards passing (he completed 13 of his 24 attempts) and 103 yards on the ground (Big Red’s defense did sack him six times). Zemis had five catches for 77 yards.
Crawford had another strong night for Big Red, rushing for 182 yards. Mitchell threw for 136 yards but was intercepted three times. Crawford and Biacco both had five receptions.
“We have to now get them focused on our next game,” Dennison said. “We are going to be sore Monday. This was a physical, physical football game against a great, physical football team. We need to get ourselves ready to keep moving forward.”
Big Red: Looks to rebound when unbeaten Pittsburgh University Prep visits Harding Stadium on Friday. University Prep improved to 5-0 with a 40-6 shellacking of Allderdice.
New Philadelphia 28, Steubenville 21
N.P. 7-0-7-14 — 28
Big Red 7-14-0-0 — 21
BIG RED: Crawford 3 run (Roberts kick)
NEW PHILADELPHIA: Zemis 25 pass from May (Warner kick)
BIG RED: Crawford 17 run (Roberts kick)
BIG RED: Crawford 11 run (Roberts kick)
NEW PHILADEPHIA: May 9 run (Warner kick)
NEW PHILADEPHIA: Meechan 3 run (Warner kick)
NEW PHILADELPHIA: May 1 run (Warner kick)
RUSHING: New Philadelphia 26-102-3 (May 24-103-2; Ortt 1-(-4); Meechan 1-3-1); Big Red 42-201-3 (Crawford 35-182-3; Mitchell 2-(-2); Tuttle 1-3; Kausky 3-9; Zorne 1-9).
PASSING: New Philadelphia 13-24-209-TD-int (all by May); Big Red 16-25-136-0-3ints (all by Mitchell).
RECEIVING: New Philadelphia 13-209-1 (Joseph 4-78; Zemis 5-77-1; Kohl 3-50′ Meechan 1-4); Big Red 16-136 (Biacco 5-43; Roberts 2-15; Tuttle 1-7; Howarth 1-16; Zorne 2-11; Crawford 5-44).
FIRST DOWNS: New Philadelphia 15; Big Red 18.
PENALTIES-YARDS: New Philadelphia 6-50; Big Red 12-85.
PUNTS: New Philadelphia 1-37; Big Red 3-36.
FUMBLES-LOST: New Philadelphia 4-3; Big Red 2-2.