Newport cruised to a 51-19 win over Lloyd on senior night Friday at Newport Stadium to secure the No. 2 seed in Northern Kentucky’s 2A district and home field advantage in the playoffs.
Senior quarterback Paul Price and the rest of the Newport offense overwhelmed Lloyd’s defense with their athleticism at the skill positions and their size at the line of scrimmage. The Wildcats racked up 613 yards of total offense for the game, as Price ran for 207 yards and five touchdowns on 22 carries and passed for 157 yards and another score.
“I just play football” Price said of his performance. “I didn’t expect to have five rushing touchdowns, but I just try to stay even-keeled on the field and not to get cocky. I just play my game.”
LaSalle’s Jay Johnson tries to get around the Winton Woods defense during the first half Friday at Winton Woods High School.
Newport head coach Matt Schmitz said he expected this dynamic level of play from Price coming into the season, and he’s pleased with the way his signal-caller has progressed: “I told him since January when I was watching him play basketball that he was going to be a special player in this offense. He’s really starting to get hot. He’s fun to watch. I enjoy watching him play every week.”
Price helped build Newport’s 23-7 halftime lead by showing off his dual-threat abilities and making several big plays with his arm and his legs in the first half.
After he scored on a 35-yard touchdown run on a read-option keeper just over two minutes into the game for the Wildcats, Price received some help from junior receiver Ryan Ochoa on their second possession. Ochoa hauled in a 3rd-and-5 pass for 20 yards, a 46-yard bomb over the middle that Price threw across his body while sprinting out to the right, and a 20-yarder in the back of the endzone where he leapt up to snag the ball while still managing to get a toe in bounds to cap a nine-play, 96-yard drive that made the score 14-0 with 3:49 left in the first quarter. Ochoa finished with five catches for 111 yards, with 86 of them coming on that drive.
Lloyd answered on its ensuing possession with a nine-play, 72-yard scoring drive of its own. Powered by a 31-yard connection between senior quarterback Hayden Molitor and sophomore Justin Durham, the Juggernauts scored their first points of the game on a 4-yard touchdown run by Durham.
Schmitz and his staff came up with a creative play-call to earn their next points as they ran a halfback pass on 4th-and-4 at the Lloyd 26, and senior Dominic Joseph proceeded to find classmate Brian Burton for the touchdown to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 20-7 with 9:07 left in the first half. Joseph, who transferred from Lloyd early in his high school career, appreciated his coaches’ decision to open up the playbook.
“I wanted that one,” Joseph said. “The corner was looking at me in the backfield the whole time, because they knew on 4th-and-4 that we were going to run it. It’s great because I wanted it bad, and the coaches trusted me enough and had enough faith in me to make a good pass.”
The Wildcats melted over half of time off of the clock in the second quarter after forcing a three-and-out on defense. They ran 17 plays on a drive that started at their own 20 and culminated with a 29-yard field goal by senior Taylen Spicer with seconds left in the half to make the score 23-7 at intermission.
“We challenged our offensive line all week to dominate the game,” Schmitz said. “Without going back to watch the film, I think they definitely did that. Once we got the lead, our defense was playing well and our line took control.”
Newport outgained Lloyd 312-78 in total yards for the first half, as Price ran for 107 and junior Tyree Bolden pitched in with 86 yards on nine carries.
The Price show resumed to start the third quarter as he scored on a 34-yard read-option keeper on the Wildcats’ opening drive. Considering it’s a huge part of Newport’s offense, Price’s skill in running the read-option was a nightmare for the Juggernauts’ defense.
“We’ve been working on that read-option since June,” Price said. “I think it’s the quickness of me reading my keys (that makes it successful). If the defensive end comes in, then I just make a quick cut and take off.”
The Juggernauts caught a break midway through the third quarter when the Wildcats fumbled it into the endzone and out of bounds for a touchback. They took advantage of the opportunity with a quick score on a 1-yard run by Durham, after Molitor connected with junior Max Willett for 66 yards to move inside the redzone.
Price added a 1-yard touchdown run at the end of the third quarter, a 15-yarder early in the fourth quarter, and a 14-yarder with 1:31 left in the game, while Lloyd junior Charles Gaines had a 4-yard touchdown run sandwiched in between at the beginning of the fourth quarter to round out the scoring.
The three-headed monster of Price, Bolden and Joseph drained most of the fourth quarter by running behind their big offensive line before Price scored his final touchdown. In addition to Price’s 207 yards, Joseph added 125 on 14 carries and Bolden ran for 100 on 11 carries. In total, the Wildcats ran for 434 yards.
“The offensive line played the best game that they’ve played all year long,” Joseph said. “They’re great. They’re the toughest, meanest guys… and they’re the reason we run the football.”
Lloyd 0 7 6 6 — 19
Newport 14 9 14 14 — 51
N – Price 35 run (Price run)
N – Ochoa 20 pass from Price (Run failed)
L – Durham 4 run (Guitierez kick)
N – Burton 26 pass from Joseph (Kick failed)
N – Spicer 29 field goal
N – Price 34 run (Spicer kick)
N – Price 1 run (Spicer kick)
N – Gaines 4 run (Pass failed)
N – Price 15 run (Spicer kick)
N – Price 14 run (Spicer kick)
Records: Newport 5-4, Lloyd 7-2.