Football: Newman 27, Hall 0
STERLING – Hall had a devil of a time dealing with Newman’s defense Saturday afternoon, and the result was predictable.
The Comets allowed the Red Devils a mere 130 yards of offense, thwarted a pair of scoring opportunities with timely interceptions, and got its own running game in gear on the way to a 27-0 victory at Roscoe Eades Stadium.
The Three Rivers Conference crossover was pushed back a day due to inclement weather on Friday night.
Hall (4-3) had averaged 36.3 points through its first six games, but had trouble all game dealing with an ornery Newman D. Comet defensive end Drew Ackman sacked Red Devil QB Christian Stefaniak for a 13-yard loss on the game’s third play, setting the tone for what was to come.
Hall rushed 28 times for a mere 45 yards. When the Red Devils were able to threaten in the second quarter, interceptions by Newman defenders Connor McBride and Andrew Wilson kept them at bay.
“They had great team speed, good back speed,” Newman linebacker Chase Graham said. “What we focused on was reading the backs. The backs took you to the play. They didn’t really pull the guards much, so reading the backs really let us get to the ball quick. All of the ‘backers flowed, and the d-line got in their gaps and blew everything up.”
Hall was playing its second game without starting quarterback Grant Resetich, who is sidelined with an elbow fracture. Stefaniak was under pressure from a relentless Newman (6-1) defense the whole game and completed just 4 of 13 passes for 85 yards, with a pair of interceptions.
James Mautino, a wide receiver for the Red Devils, threw one pass, and that was also picked off.
“Their linebackers fly to the ball,” Hall coach Randy Tieman said. “They’re 3-year starters, and they’re just fast and physical and play downhill, but they play with great discipline. We’re playing without our quarterback, and it’s a little tough to run some of the stuff we’ve been running all year with a new quarterback in there, but that’s no excuse. Newman can really play defense.”
Newman’s offense wasn’t quite as crisp as in other games, but still managed to put up some decent numbers. The Comets rushed for 315 yards on 51 carries, with senior fullback Luke Olson accounting for 158 of those on just 13 carries.
Olson’s 84-yard TD run with 4:24 left in the third quarter staked Newman to a 21-0 lead.
“The offensive line, I’ve got to give credit to them on that play,” Olson said. “They opened up a hole, and Colin Roberts at tight end, he sealed off a guy, and I got to make a cut off of him. He did a great job there, and I just ran as hard as I could to the end zone.”
Olson scored two touchdowns, as did McBride, who had 70 yards on 17 carries.
Newman had running clock games in five of its first six, but the Red Devils avoided that knockout punch due in part to Comet errors. They committed nine penalties for 75 yards, including one that nullified a long TD run by McBride, and there were also two second-quarter lost fumbles that allowed Hall to hang around.
“Our guys were just elsewhere in the first half,” Newman coach Mike Papoccia said. “I don’t know what was the matter with us, but give Hall all the credit in the world. They played really hard. That’s the toughest we’ve had a team play against us since Orion.”