By ccwhiteindiana | October 16, 2015 9:43 pm ET
With the last possession, and possibly the last play to decide a typical shootout with county rival Floyd Central, the Bulldogs made a pitch and a plea for Moore to score. He did, bolting into the end zone from 10 yards out with 8 seconds left and powering the Bulldogs to a wild 51-47 victory at Buerk Field.
Moore scored four rushing touchdowns and added a 66-yard halfback pass for another score as New Albany (4-5) ended the regular-season with a thrill-a-minute win over the slumping Highlanders (4-5 with four straight losses).
Moore started the night with a 58-yard touchdown run on the game’s first play, and he finished it in style. It became apparent the last team with the ball would likely win, and the last touch belonged to the player with the best moves.
“He is incredible,” New Albany coach Sean Coultis said. “Those kids are blocking for him. We tell them to at least get in somebody’s way and Rondale will navigate his way through. He is great, but all 11 guys were doing what they were supposed to do.”
The offensive explosion, for two teams that are usually ball-control and defensive minded, brought back memories of Floyd’s 61-60 and 48-47 victories over New Albany in 2010.
“It’s about the way it goes every year,” Floyd Central coach Brian Glesing said. “They just got the better end of us this year. Whichever team got the ball last was going to win the game, and they got it.”
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Floyd might have scored its last touchdown too quickly. Facing fourth-and-1 at midfield, the Highlanders went for the long ball and connected as Matt Weimer hit Bradley Philpot for a 50-yard touchdown and a 47-44 lead with 3:48 left. That was too much time to kill.
“We went for the home run and got it, and probably scored too quick,” Glesing said. “You hope your defense can make a play, but we weren’t able to make a play. We scored 47 points. I don’t know what to say.”
“I thought it would be a low-scoring game,” Coultis said. “It turned into a shootout. It was being resilient. We kept fighting. It was great win coming off of two losses.”
The first half was conducted at a video-game scoring pass, and the defensive buttons must have malfunctioned.
Moore set the tone when he broke the first play. After that full-throttle start, both offenses were shifted to full speed.
The Highlanders scored on their first drive, marching 56 unchallenged in 9 plays with Colt May capping it from 5 yards. Floyd took the lead when Keaton Stiller recovered a Darquan Richardson fumble in the end zone.
New Albany unveiled quarterback Dylan Clark, starting in place of junior Justin Ricketts after a year on the freshman team, on its next series. Clark connected with Michael Maxwell for 29 yards and Davin Alexender for a 26-yard score. Floyd Central, which usually disdains the passing game, embraced it when Weimer found Paden Pickey for 42 yards to set up Brandon Striegel’s 2-yard touchdown.
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Both offenses were just getting started, as the teams scored on nine of 12 possessions in the half, including the last six. Clark hit Moore for 31 yards, Richardson burst 13 yards, and Moore scored from the 9 for a 22-21 New Albany lead, but Weimer executed a perfect play-action pass for a 28-yard TD to Philpot and another lead change.
Not to be outdone, the Bulldogs called a halfback pass, and Moore fired a strike (while being leveled by a pass rusher) to Alexander for a 66-yard score. But the Highlanders took a 35-30 lead at intermission when Blake Carl smashed through (on fourth-and-4) from 26 yards on the final play.
Neither team could continue that pace, but the scoring didn’t stop. Moore had a 17-yard TD run in the third, Blake Carl had a 15-yarder for the Highlanders, and Richardson made amends for his early turnovers with a 42-yard burst to set up his own 3-yard score with 7:30 left. That was the prelude to the breathless finish.
Weimer was 13 of 15 for 233 yards passing for the Highlanders, with Pickey catching 8 for 129 yards. Clark completed 6 of 10 for 158 yards. Richardson finished with 119 yards rushing for the Bulldogs.
Justin Sokeland can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW ALBANY 51, FLOYD CENTRAL 47
NA – Rondale Moore, 58 run (Mergen Batchulun kick), 11:41; FC – Colt May, 5 run (Antonio Villegas kick), 7:28; FC – Keaton Stiller, fumble recover in end zone (Tyler Young pass from Brady Miles), 2:44; NA – Davin Alexander, 26 pass from Dylan Clark (Derek Griffin pass from Clark), 1:17; FC – Brandon Striegel, 2 run (kick failed), 11:04; NA – Moore, 9 run (Batchulun kick), 7:08; FC – Bradley Philpot, 28 pass from Matthew Weimer (May run), 2:51; NA – Alexander, 66 pass from Moore (Moore run), 1:33; ,FC – Blake Carl, 26 run (pass failed), 0:00: NA – Moore, 17 run (Batchulun kick), 8:53; FC – Carl, 15 run (run failed), 5:22; NA – Darquan Richardson, 5 run (Batchulun kick), 7:30: FC – Philpot, 50 pass from Weimer (kick failed), 3:48; NA – Moore, 10 run (Batchulun kick), 0:08