Prep football: Caldwell drops 7-0 decision to Newcomerstown

CALDWELL – The Caldwell Redskins’ fourth quarter drive came up five yards short as they dropped a 7-0 defensive struggle to the Newcomerstown Trojans Thursday night in the prep football opener for both teams at the Noble County Fairgrounds.

The Redskins had the ball at the five-yard line with just three minutes to play, but two running plays netted zero yards and a fourth- down pass attempt fell incomplete as the Trojans defense rose to the occasion.

“We had a drive there at the end, we just missed it and couldn’t get it in,” said sixth-year Caldwell head coach Josh Perkins. “No excuses we just have to get back to work and get ready for next week.”

Penalties and turnovers plagued both teams as each squad committed three turnovers while the Trojans were flagged for eight penalties for 85 yards only to be out done by the Redskins who totaled 90 yards on 10 penalties.

One of those turnovers looked like it would spell doom for the ‘Skins late in the first half as sophomore quarterback Tanner Clark fumbled a ball near midfield which Newcomerstown’s Austin Zufelt scooped up and appeared headed for a touchdown at the other end.

Clark never gave up the chase however and finally made the tackle at the one-yard line to prevent the touchdown.

“That showed a lot of pride right there,” said Perkins of Clark’s hustling save. “He gave up the fumble but he went down and made the play, thats just a lot of pride and a lot of character.”

After a penalty backed the Trojans up to the 15-yard line, the Caldwell defense rose to the occasion and a big stop on fourth down by senior Justin Hardesty kept Newcomerstown out of the end zone.

Both teams turned the ball over again in the third quarter and it would be the Trojans who finally cashed in.

After another fumble by Clark turned the ball over to Newcomerstown at their own 30, they put together the longest drive by either team in the game to score what would prove to be the games only touchdown.

A big 22-yard run by junior running back Jibril Dansby, combined with a 15-yard personal foul penalty against the Skins enabled the Trojans to convert a third-and-25 and move the ball into the red zone.

Three plays later, Dansby scampered into the end zone from six yards out to give the Trojans the lead with less than a minute to play in the third quarter.

Immediately after the Trojan score, play was delayed for almost two hours due to a power outage on one end of the field.

When play resumed it would be the Redskins who came up with a huge turnover to give themselves one more chance at tying the game.

The Caldwell defense knocked the ball free from Trojan running back Cody Hall and sophomore Bricker Lori pounced on the fumble to give Caldwell the ball in Newcomerstown territory with eight minutes to play.

A 22-yard pass from Clark to Tanner Baker moved the ball to the 27-yard line and a pass interference call against the Trojans put the ball at the 12-yard line with less than five minutes to play.

Caldwell drew a costly holding penalty on the next play, but Clark connected with Minosky on a 17-yard pass play to move the ball to the five-yard line with just three minutes remaining on the clock.

Rushing attempts by both Clark and Lori netted the Redskins zero yards, setting up a fourth down pass attempt intended for Minosky that fell just short, turning the ball over on downs to the Trojans.

Newcomerstown would run the clock out from there to secure the victory in their season opener.

Dansby gained 128 yards on 20 carries to lead all rushers, while Clark completed 6-of-8 passes for 69 yards while also leading the Skins in rushing with 65 yards on 12 carries.

“We just turned the ball over too many times and thats unacceptable,” said Perkins of the loss. “Our defense kept us in the game. One game doesn’t make a season, we just have a lot of things we need to work on.”

Next up for Caldwell is its Pioneer Valley Conference opener next week as it visits Buckeye Trail.