Game of the Week

Quakers jump on Crusaders early to remain undefeated

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The New Philadelphia Quakers (5-0) remain undefeated on the season after a big 35-21 road victory against the Canton Central Catholic Crusaders (1-4) on Friday, Sept. 22.

The Quaker offense has been able to pick apart defenses in a variety of different ways this season, and it all starts with sophomore quarterback Baron May. The young quarterback is a multi-threat under center, and he is surrounded by a veteran group at the skill positions to help share the load and take pressure off the young signal caller.

New Philadelphia jumped on the Crusaders from the opening kickoff with two first-quarter touchdowns, the first on a 17-yard bullet from May to senior wide receiver Jelani Walker (extra point kick by Storm Elsesser was good) for Walker’s first score of the evening with 7:56 left in the quarter.

The Quaker defense forced the Crusaders to punt, and the New Phila offense went back to work on their own 38-yard line with 5:00 to play in the quarter. The drive ended three minutes and 15 seconds later with senior running back Kye Crowthers dragging four Crusaders with him into the end zone on a 2-yard touchdown run (Elsesser extra point kick was good) to give the Quakers a two-score lead at 14-0 at the end of the opening quarter.

The Crusader offense continued to be in a funk into the second quarter and were forced to punt after a three and out, but a booming punt pinned the Quakers back on their own 7-yard line to give the Crusaders some leverage and a chance to put pressure on May. Central Catholic’s defense held firm and forced their own three and out. A short punt by the Quakers gave the Crusader offense a shot in the arm as they took over on a short field at New Philly’s 41-yard line. Central Catholic’s junior lefty quarterback Dylan Johnson and super sophomore Chase Miller went to work. It was Miller’s 2-yard plunge with 7:56 left in the second quarter (extra point kick by Sam Mills was good) that put the Crusaders on the scoreboard and trimmed the Quaker lead to 14-7.

It felt like the momentum had changed as Central Catholic was starting to control the pace of the game, but the Quakers were having none of it. New Philly’s offense went back to the drawing board, and it was Crowthers barrelling his way back into the end zone on a 1-yard TD with 2:16 left in the second quarter for his second score of the night (Elsesser extra point kick was good), giving the Quakers another 14-point advantage at 21-7.

On the next possession, Central Catholic was forced into another three and out, but the Quaker defense deflected the punt to give New Philly the ball on the Crusader 30-yard line with 38 seconds left in the half. With a chance to tack on more points before the end of the half, the Quaker offense didn’t squander the opportunity. May and Walker connected on another quick-strike scoring play via a 30-yard TD pass (Elsesser extra point kick was good) to give New Philly a comfortable 28-7 advantage going into the intermission.

With the game seemingly out of hand to open the second half of play, Central Catholic opened the half, and Johnson went back to work by quickly leading the Crusaders down the field for their second score of the game on Gunnar Eberhart’s 2-yard dive (Mills extra point kick was good). With 10:11 left in the third quarter, the Quakers now led 28-14.

Holding a two-score lead, New Philly was pinned deep on their next possession after a muffed kick-off return, but May’s 74-yard pass completion got the Quakers back in business and set the table for Crowthers’ third rushing TD of the game from 2 yards out (Elsesser extra point kick was good) with 8:41 left in the third quarter.

Central Catholic kept it interesting by adding another TD with 5:48 remaining in the third quarter on senior Baily Capps 5-yard plunge to get the game back within reach (Mills extra point kick was good). The Crusader defense needed to step up and get a few stops if Central Catholic was ever going to get back into this game.

The green and white defense held fast and put pressure on the Quaker offense by getting a goal-line stand and blocking the New Phila field goal attempt from the 1-yard line with 7:19 left in the fourth quarter. The Crusaders again dug their heels in and tried to give their offense another shot to score when junior defensive back Nick Cianciola made a big-time interception on May’s forced red zone pass with 4:39 remaining in the game to give the Central Catholic faithful some hope for a quick score.

All hopes from the hometown faithful for a Crusader comeback bid were dashed when Capps was stopped just a half-yard short of scoring on fourth and goal to give the ball back to the Quakers, who ran out the clock to end the game and stay unbeaten.

New Philadelphia coach Matt Dennison was thrilled for his kids to earn the victory. “We came in against a quality opponent in a tough place to play. This game is always a dog fight each and every year. I am proud of our kids. They played tough for 48 minutes. They showed resiliency when a couple things didn’t go our way, but they kept fighting and got the job done. We didn’t tackle particularly well tonight, but we will work on it to get better. Jelani Walker and Baron May had nice games tonight. May made a couple of sophomore mistakes in the fourth quarter, but we will take those types of mistakes with the quality effort he gives us. We have to get some guys healthy this week and need to be ready for Marietta.”

New Philadelphia was led by May on 11 of 19 passing for 252 yards with two TDs (one INT) and 52 yards rushing. Walker finished with six receptions for 95 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Crowthers finished with 81 yards on the ground on 29 attempts and plowed his way to three scores. New Philadelphia will travel to Marietta for their next game on Sept. 29.

Canton Central Catholic was led by Miller on the ground with 13 carries for 70 yards and a TD to go with seven receptions for 57 yards. Johnson led the Crusaders through the air on 19 of 26 passing for 190 yards, and junior Alec Stalnaker had four catches for 67 yards. Canton Central Catholic will play their next game at Akron Ellet on Sept. 29.

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