Newberg rocks Reynolds on homecoming night
On a crisp fall night at Loran Douglas Field, the buzz of homecoming radiated from a crowd of students dressed all in black. On the field, the Newberg Tigers football team emerged from the locker room in black uniforms adorned with pink numbers — a statement for breast cancer awareness — and prepared for a duel with Reynolds.
The game did little to live up to the hype of the No. 13 and No. 16 teams in Class 6A ball squaring off. Instead, the higher-ranked Newberg Tigers rolled over Reynolds 40-0, keeping its streak of defensive dominance alive.
A testament to its experience and ability on that end of the field, the Tigers' starting defense hasn't allowed a point in three consecutive games.
"We've been getting better every week," NHS coach Kevin Hastin said. "Reynolds definitely had weapons on offense – some guys with speed that we had to match up with. We had great pursuit to the football and tackling, something we've been working on for a while.
"Our defense has really been stepping up and has given our offense great field position."
It didn't take long for Newberg to score its first touchdown of the night. At the end of a drive that lasted one minute, 31 seconds, the Tigers scored on a 40-yard run by sophomore running back Price Pothier.
As its defense held up, the Newberg offense reached pay dirt again thanks to a one-yard run by senior tailback Justin Holtan. His score came after a lengthy drive and made it 14-0 Tigers with 3:33 remaining in the first quarter.
On the next drive, junior linebacker Conner Croskrey stepped in front of an under-thrown ball and picked up an interception for the Tigers, setting up a quick score for the offense.
Sophomore running back Sonny Apilando scored in one play, a 13-yard run to the edge that went relatively untouched.
It was 21-0 Newberg after one quarter and a field goal by junior Alex Valdez late in the second period made it 24-0 Tigers at the half.
After an extended halftime filled with homecoming festivities, Newberg was late coming out of the locker room and was penalized, resulting in a backed-up kickoff. This provided a chance for Reynolds to pick up a big return, and it did — to the Newberg 11.
Fortunately for the Tigers, though, the Raiders' ineptitude on offense resulted in an eventual turnover on downs. It was Reynolds' best shot to score by that point in the game.
On the next offensive drive for the Raiders, Croskrey lurked in the secondary and snatched his second interception of the game for Newberg.
Croskrey's pick resulted in another scoring drive for the Tigers, this time capped off by a two-yard run from Holtan to make it 31-0 Tigers midway through the third quarter.
"We've got some playmakers carrying the football and the offensive line is doing a great job," Hastin said. "We've got three dangerous backs that can pop off at any time, and things are going well on offense. This is how we want to play."
A few minutes later, after backing themselves up near their own goal line, Reynolds snapped the ball through the end zone on what would have been a punt, resulting in a safety.
Through three quarters, it was 33-0 Newberg.
The first play of the fourth quarter was another dubious one for the Reynolds offense and another turnover forced by Newberg.
Junior defensive back Johnathan McGraw stepped in front of the receiver and picked it off for the team's third interception of the day.
After the Tigers notched yet another turnover on a muffed punt by Reynolds, they surrendered one of their own as sophomore quarterback Levi Durrell fumbled and it was recovered by the Raiders. Time ticked along in the fourth with the score remaining 33-0 Tigers.
With 3:30 remaining and plenty of backups in the game, Newberg junior quarterback Kyle Blohm found junior wideout Gabe Ramos in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. That brought the game to its final score of 40-0.
Next on the docket for Newberg (4-1) is its first league game of the season on Thursday, a road matchup with Century (2-3).
"The challenge for the week is dealing with less practice time and coming back from an emotional homecoming win," Hastin said. "We just have to have a great week of practice and keep getting better – there were plenty of mistakes to clean up."
The Tigers' next home game is Oct. 18 against Sherwood.
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