CALDWELL -- There was no masking the fact that Thursday night's clash between Newcomerstown and Caldwell was a season opener.
The teams combined for six turnovers, had numerous penalties and did almost nothing offensively in the first half, but in the end it was the Trojans who put one in the win column to start the 2013 campaign by defeating the Redskins, 7-0.
Oh, by the way, there was a power outage for the third consecutive season at the Noble County Fairgrounds during a Redskins' game, one that lasted an hour and helped turn the contest into a three hour and fifteen minute affair.
Much of the first half was played on Caldwell's end of the field as Newcomerstown had opportunity after opportunity to get on the scoreboard, but a combination of mistakes and the Redskins' defense kept turning the Trojans away.
Newcomerstown drove to the Caldwell 25-yard line on the opening series before a penalty and a sack by the Redskins' Kameron Rayner stalled the drive.
After forcing a three-and-out by the 'Skins, the Trojans had it back at the 25 after a short punt only to fumble the ball away on the first snap, with Caldwell's Tanner Clark pouncing on the loose ball at the Redskins' eight-yard line.
Caldwell again when nowhere and punted, with NHS taking over this time at its 44 and moving to the hosts' 21 before another sack, this time by Bricker Lori, thwarted the bid.
The 'Skins picked up a couple of first downs on their next series, but a fumbled pitch-out was scooped up by Newcomerstown's Austin Zufelt and he headed for an apparent 59-yard touchdown only to be tripped up at the one, and when a penalty went against the Trojans, it set the ball back to the Caldwell 16.
NHS gave it to senior Cody Hall four consecutive times, but the Redskins' defense rose to the challenge and stopped him just short on fourth down just shy of the six, resulting in a scoreless tie at the half during which each team was charted with just 47 net yards of offense.
The Redskins opened the second half with a nice drive that carried from their 37 to the NHS 11 thanks mainly to runs of 20 and 14 yards by Clark, but again the turnover bug struck and the Trojans' Jason Garlando recovered a CHS fumble at the 19.
Newcomerstown moved downfield again on a 16-yard pass from Zufelt to junior back Jibril Dansby; runs of 10 and eight yards by Dansby; a 14-yard gainer by junior Jarrid Weaver and a 10-yard pass from Zufelt to Hall, but this time it was the Trojans who coughed it up as Caldwell's Andrew Minosky snuffed out another NHS threat with a recovery.
Caldwell gave it right back on the next snap, however, with Chase Eggleston getting the fumble recovery for the Trojans at the CHS 30-yard line.
On second down, a crunching blind-side block resulted in an injury to Caldwell sophomore Austin Cobb, who had to be taken from the field by ambulance (his status was uncertain, but he gave a thumbs-up acknowledgement to the cheering crowd as he left the field).
After the delay, the Trojans finally made their sixth trip inside the Caldwell 25 pay dividends when Dansby's lunge to the goal line on a seven-yard run hit paydirt.
Austin King booted the extra-point to give NHS a 7-0 lead with 51.3 seconds left in the third quarter.
That's when the stadium transformer blew and left everyone standing or sitting around for an hour with just over a quarter to play (some even headed off to the fair!).
When the game resumed, Caldwell got to the NHS 39 thanks in part to a 19-yard pickup by Lori, but was eventually forced to punt.
The Trojans gave the 'Skins one final shot when they fumbled it away again, with Lori collecting the loose pigskin at the NHS 41 with 7:02 remaining.
A 22-yard pass from Clark to junior Tanner Baker on a third-and-20 kept things alive for CHS and then an 18-yard lob from Clark to senior Justin Hardesty had the hosts knocking at the door on the Newcomerstown five.
The Trojans' 'D' came up big, however, and kept the Redskins from crossing the goal line, and then NHS ran out the clock.
Both coaches were quick to point to the many mistakes in the game which included the combined six turnovers and 17 penalties for 171 yards.
"It was very frustrating," said Newcomerstown coach Eric Brock. "Obviously, we blew a lot of opportunities with turnovers. We shot ourselves in the foot a lot.
"I liked that our kids were able to overcome some mistakes, though," he continued. "Our defense really played well, especially at the end of the game.
"We definitely have a lot of work to do," Brock added, "but it's good to be 1-0 while we're working on them."
"We drove it three different times," related Caldwell coach Josh Perkins, "but we turned it over and that's unacceptable. Our defense kept us in the game by forcing turnovers, but we made too many mistakes with turnovers and costly penalties.
"We only gave up seven points, and we certainly expect to score more than that," he added. "We have to take care of the ball and we didn't.
"It's only the first game, and there's a lot of football to play," the Redskins' boss noted. "One game doesn't make the season. No excuses. We'll just get back to work and get ready for Buckeye Trail."
Newcomerstown finished with 179 yards of total offense, including 142 rushing and 37 passing. Dansby gained 101 yards on 20 carries and Hall added 49 yards on 18 attempts. Zufelt was 3-of-5 passing.
Caldwell had a net of 169, with 99 on the ground and 70 through the air. Clark was 6-of-8 passing and he led the Redskins' ground attack with 13 carries for 69 yards.
NEXT-- Both teams are on the road Friday -- Caldwell traveling to Old Washington to face Buckeye Trail in a mutual Pioneer Valley Conference opener while Newcomerstown treks back to Noble County to face Shenandoah. Both games kick off at 7 p.m.