NEWARK — Newark Catholic had just enough offense to win a defensive slugfest Saturday night.
Kris Goodman hit Tanner Lake for a 6-yard third-quarter touchdown pass, the only touchdown of the game, as the Green Wave opened Licking County League Cardinal Division play with a 10-0 win against Heath at soggy White Field.
Heath McCarthy’s 23-yard field goal in the second quarter for NC (5-1, 1-0 LCL) proved to be the only other scoring on this chilly, rainy night.
Aaron Latiolais carried 37 times for a net 120 yards and also threw for 70 yards for the Bulldogs (3-3, 0-1). But Heath was stopped four times on downs in NC territory, including three times in the second half.
“Seven days ago, we made a commitment to play a style that fit and could keep him (Latiolias) under control,” NC coach Bill Franks said. “And we made some adjustments in the red zone. They played with some short fields, but we kept him on the run. We stayed in our spots and spaces, and tackled well.”
Bulldogs’ coach Mark Collier pointed to a key sequence of events starting the second half. Heath forced a three-and-out trailing just 3-0, and NC punter Nick Cavinee fumbled the snap. But he still got off a 34-yard punt, and the Bulldogs then hiked the ball over Latiolais’ head for an 18-yard loss.
The Green Wave took over at their 45 after a punt and drove 55 yards in 10 plays for the 10-0 lead, with Goodman running for 9 yards to the 9 to set up his TD pass to Lake. McCarthy’s kick at 3:53 of the third ended the scoring on the night.
“They (NC) won the field position game, but we let them get away with the fumbled snap, when we should have rushed to create rhythm, and then we snap the ball over our quarterback’s head,” Collier said. “Instead of having the ball deep in their territory, we’re back inside our 20.”
On fourth-and-3 at the NC 33 later in the third, Nolan Jurden stopped Latiolais for a 2-yard gain.
“They’re a very good team, but our mentality is bend not break, and we hadn’t had a shutout all year,” Jurden said. “We felt that we could get it all night. In practice, the coaches put us in the worst case scenarios.”
In the fourth, Cavinee, Tyke Wilson and Connor Sheehan sacked Latiolais for a 6-yard loss at the NC 29, and a fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
“Our Wednesday practice is like a military workout, and it helps us in games like this,” Wilson said. “We’re in full pads and we hit for an hour. We stay in shape.”
Latiolais drove Heath into the red zone late in the fourth, but Cole Buchanan stopped him for a yard loss at the 5, and his fourth-down pass to the end zone was knocked away by Sam Bending.
“We had to stay in our coverages, but not let him get outside,” Buchanan said. “We had to get low and wrap up. He’s pretty slippery.”
Heath’s defense also played well (the Bulldogs out-gained NC 214-188). Tyler Miracle and Daulton Brown stopped Grant Rausch for a yard loss on fourth-and-2 at the Heath 6 in the first quarter, after Wes Jurden partially blocked Tyler Karr’s punt and it traveled only a yard to the 28. NC returned the favor in the second quarter, when Buchanan and Lake dropped Latiolais for a yard loss on fourth-and-1 at the Green Wave 45.
Kyle Gibson had 41 yards on 16 carries for NC, while Goodman ran for 37 yards and threw for 97. Despite the wet conditions, neither team turned it over.
“Hats off to them. They played smarter and more disciplined than us,” Collier said. “They did a better job of situational football. It’s kind of frustrating, when you can’t move the chains on third and fourth down.”