SARAHSVILLE -- The Shenandoah Zeps struggled to contain the powerful ground game that was brought to the table by the Newcomerstown Trojans Friday night on the Zeps' home turf.
The combination of Jibril Dansby and Cody Hall ran over, around and through the Shenandoah defense, helping the Trojans to a lopsided 41-19 victory over the Zeps.
The duo finished the game with a combined 315 yards on the ground and five touchdowns.
"We are very happy with our ability to run the ball," offered proud Trojan head coach Eric Brock. "Dansby is a very hard runner, and the ability to pair him with Hall allows them to remain fresh and continue to run hard late into games."
Despite the lopsided loss, Shenandoah head coach Kaleb Lawrence was proud of his team's performance as a whole and their resilience despite being down early.
"There will always be nay-sayers", offered Coach Lawrence. "Tonight is the best that this team has played since I have been coach. They are beginning to stay together and finish games."
The Trojans wasted little time getting on the scoreboard after the opening kick-off.
Senior quarterback Austin Zufelt and the Newcomerstown offense marched 68 yards on five plays largely due to the success of Hall.
Zufelt and Hall hooked up on a 39-yard pass on first down, setting the Trojans up inside the Zeps' five.
Hall promptly responded with a three-yard touchdown run, putting his team ahead 6-0 with 10:15 remaining in the first quarter after Austin King's PAT sailed wide right.
The stingy Trojan defense forced a three-and-out on the first Zeps' possession which netted only a single yard.
Newcomerstown then composed a four-play 59-yard drive and found the end zone again with a heavy mix of its rushing attack, as Hall found the end zone for a second time from 19 yards out.
Hall also carried the two-point conversion across the goal line, extending the Trojans' lead to 14.
The Second Stanza saw a more balanced game as the tough Shenandoah defence slowed down the Trojan rushing attack.
However, the newly confident defense committed a critical penalty just before the half. After a 25-yard Dansby scamper, SHS was tagged with a horse-collar penalty moving the ball inside the 10.
Hall responded with his third TD of the game from one yard out, and King's kick went wide left leaving the advantage at 20-0.
An interception by Chase Eggleston put the Trojans' offense back on the field in Zeps' territory with a chance to extend the lead before the half.
However, on the ensuing drive, the Zeps' Tanner Moore made amends for his miscue by picking off Zufelt in his end zone and returning it 102 yards for the Zeps' first score. Ethan McKee booted in the extra-point, making it 20-7 at the half.
"I was happy that we were able to steal the momentum from then at specific points of the game," offered Lawrence. "This shows the team's resilience, I'm not sure if these plays would have been made last year and that shows we're moving in the right direction."
After the Zeps turned it over on downs to begin the third quarter, Dansby began a brilliant second half starting with a 41 yard TD run on the first offensive possession.
The missed King had the Trojans on top, 27-7.
Dansby wasn't the only back who had the ability to run the ball as the Zeps' Michael VanFossen tallied 141 yard on 23 rushes.
VanFossen found the end zone on the Zeps' next offensive possession from seven yards out capping a 45-yard drive. The failed two-point conversion by Moore left the score at 27-13.
The next Trojan drive consisted of more of the same as Jason Garlando took the opening rush 38 across midfield deep into Zeps' territory and Dansby capped the drive with a 15-yard TD run. King tacked on the extra-point, making it a 34-13 advantage late in the fourth.
After a third Moore interception, Dansby found the end zone for the final time from 30 yards out, and King's kick pushed the advantage to 41-13.
The Zeps, however, were not done yet as they moved the ball down the field on a six-play, 55-yard drive capped by an eight-yard Jacob Rossiter TD run.
The two-point attempt failed, leaving the advantage at 41-19 when the final whistle sounded.
"We need to establish a more efficient passing attack in order to maintain momentum," offered Lawrence. "We have the ability to start drive, but difficulty maintaining them once we get in the red zone due to the heavily relying on the run."
Aside from VanFossen's 141 yards, Rossiter was able to contribute 43 on eight carries.
For the Trojans, Dansby tallied 247 yards on 21 carries and three scores while Hall collected 68 yard on nine carries of his own.
NEXT-- Newcomerstown hosts United Local on Friday at 7 p.m.