The Olney Tigers showed they were the real deal Friday night against the Newton Eagles.
Not only did the Tiger offense score 35 points in the first half but the defense kept the Eagles offense in check on many possessions during the game. Olney produced a 42-14 victory over the Eagles at Newton.
“We just didn’t have the matchups in our favor,” Newton coach Jason Fulton said after the game. “Give Olney all the credit. You can tell this has been building for them for a while. We knew we were in for some trouble tonight. I was hoping it wouldn’t go quite like that. Olney is just a great team and Matt Music does a great job with them.”
It looked from the start it was going to be a long night for the Eagles after Olney scored three straight touchdowns. It was a showcase of team’s talent.
On Olney’s first possession they ran and passed down the field for a quick strike by runner back Gavin Dorn, who has been a starter since he was a freshman. For the game, he rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown and pulled in passes for 67 yards, including a touchdown catch and run. Dorn and his offensive teammates showed how going outside is their bread and butter for the team’s attack. Blake Mitchell also scored a TD for the Tigers on the ground.
Tiger Quarterback Kaleb Foster passed for 148 yards and connected on three touchdowns with Dorn, Jayden Fleming on a 50-yarder, and to Quinn Miller as well. Foster also managed the offense superbly throughout the night and ran for 28 yards. It was a specular offensive performance in less than 24 minutes of play.
But Eagles fans had something to cheer just before halftime. Newton running back Adam Bridges broke away for a 65-yard touchdown run before the end of the half. He also scored another running touchdown in the fourth quarter after a long scoring drive. His 127 yards accounted for most of Newton’s 233 yards on offense that night. Ben Meinhart racked up 43 yards rushing and picked up 33 yards on two pass receptions.
Marshall Tarr took over the quarterback position early in the contest when Jacob Stanley was injured. The Newton passing game only contributed 43 yards as the running game proved more effective.
Fulton was proud of how his defense kept the Tigers out of the end zone in the second half. Leading tacklers for the Eagles were Blake Muska with three solos and four assists. Payton Birch had four solo stops and an assist. Jaxon Barthelme had two solos against Olney.
It was senior night for Newton and they played with pride even into the closing minutes of the game. For example, Payton Birch, whose injuries did not prevent him from playing defense, pulled in an interception almost one-handed in the end zone to deny the Tigers another score.
“I was proud of my defense. They struggled in the first half but in the second half we didn’t give up an offensive touchdown. That’s a little battle but that’s something we can build off for next week,” Fulton said.
However, turnovers hurt Newton more than their opponents that night. Olney’s Conner Holtz snatched a pass on the sideline in the second half and raced 49 yards for a touchdown, ending the Tigers scoring at 42. The Eagles also lost two fumbles to the Tigers that stopped Newton drives.
The Tiger offensive line controlled the trenches on many downs. They mixed speed with muscle to help stretch Olney’s running and screen passes around the edges. It helped that the Tigers have speed demons at many skill positions as well.
Frustrated with the lopsided score and spurred on by their coaches, the Eagles offensive line and other blockers did push back the Tigers on some second-half downs. It was another example of how the players did not give up.
“We’ve been on the other end of this. A couple of years ago we were doing just the opposite [on the final score]. It’s a rollercoaster. With a school our size it can go up and down,” Fulton said. “These kids did not give up. I’m really proud of these kids.”
Injuries were a factor in the game with Trenton Hance sidelined and Jacob Stanley coming out early in the game with a trainer working on him.
With two straight losses behind them, the Eagles will battle for a winning record at Marshall on Oct. 25. A win will be for Eagle pride and the seniors ending their high school football careers.
“This senior class had been dedicated and worked hard. To see these guys grow up and coming through our program and coming to my camps. I want it so bad for them. We want these guys to have a successful year. This year has been one of the most pleasurable to coach. We’ve had so much fun and enjoyed going to practice because of these seniors. If we can get them one more next week that will be huge,” Fulton said.