A rugged run defense lifted visiting River High to a 35-7 victory over the Newcomerstown Trojans in non-league football action at Lee Stadium on Friday night.
Unable to produce in the ground game, the Trojans were forced to go to the airwaves and attack with the passing game.
"We've been running the ball well in the preseason and week one," Newcomerstown coach Eric Brock said, "but tonight we couldn't get anything going in the ground game. That made us very one-dimensional on offense, and that makes it much easier to call your defense when you know the other team can't run the ball."
The Trojans were held to a meager 34 yards rushing in 19 attempts, which works out to a lowly 1.8 yards per carry average.
"They just really took it to us tonight," Brock said. "They were strong up front at the point of attack on defense and we struggled to get anything going."
While the Orange and Black found the going rough, River senior Nick Asturi got started early on what would be a big night for the Pilots' tailback.
Asturi finished his night's work with 191 yards rushing on 18 carries with three rushing touchdowns.
After a short punt by the Trojans set up River with a short field at the NHS 16-yard line, Asturi needed just two totes of the football to crack into the end zone at the 6:06 mark of the opening period.
Following Colton Wright's PAT kick, the visitors enjoyed a quick 7-0 lead.
River QB Cody Caldwell registered the lone score in the second stanza, plowing to paydirt with 8:57 left on the clock to extend the Pilots' advantage to 14-0 at the halftime intermission following Wright's PAT kick.
To open the third quarter, the Pilots continued to roll along, tacking on a pair of touchdowns to extend their lead to 28-0 after three quarters.
Asturi tallied his second TD of the night, with a 5-yard run at the 7:21 mark followed by Caldwell hooking up with Kameron Brown on a 56-yard scoring play with just 29 seconds left in the third period.
Asturi put up his third and final TD in the early stages of the fourth quarter, scoring on a 26-yard jaunt to push River's lead to 35-0 with 8:42 left in the game.
Newcomerstown was able to avert a shutout in the closing minutes of action thanks to a miscue by River.
Trojans back-up punter Zach Waggoner got a chance to get his foot into the ball with NHS forced into a punting situation with 6:16 remaining. Dylan Ice of River was back and in his attempt to field the punt, muffed his opportunity and the Trojans' Dylan Anderson pounced on the loose pigskin at the River one-yard line.
Junior Cody Hall took the ensuing hand-off and broke into the end zone for the touchdown at the 6:11 mark, and junior Austin King added the PAT boot for the final score of 35-7.
With the ground game M.I.A., Trojan sophomore QB Austin Zufelt was able to put up some decent numbers in the passing game. Zufelt hit on 16-of-29 passes for 163 yards. Zufelt's favorite target was senior Chandler Shryock, who hauled in eight receptions for 89 yards while King finished with four catches for 31 yards.
Caldwell also enjoyed some success in the passing game. The River QB hit on 8-of-15 for 191 yards, with Brown racking up five catches for 157 yards.
"We're going to just move on from today and fix some stuff when we watch film," Brock said. "Then we'll get to work next week for week number three."
NEXT--Newcomerstown faces a long road trip this week, playing at Portsmouth Notre Dame on Saturday at 6 p.m.