New Albany junior running back Darquan Richardson isn’t much of a talker, but luckily for the Bulldogs, he lets his play do the talking.
In a night riddled with inconsistencies for New Albany, Richardson was a constant, rushing for 184 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs to a 27-14 season-opening win over neighborhood rival Providence.
He was, well, a jerk, according to his head coach Sean Coultis.
“He’s quiet, but I always tell the kids, look: You should be the nicest guy in the world off the field,” Coultis said. “But when you’re on the field, you’ve got to be a jerk.”
Richardson had 119 yards and all three of his touchdown runs in the second half after sophomore quarterback Dylan Clark threw two interceptions in the third quarter. The junior carried the ball 32 times.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” Coultis said. “He had 1,000 yards last year despite missing two games. You can stop him and stop him and stop him, (but) if you give him the ball enough times, he’s going to make something good happen.”
READ MORE: Friday’s Southern Indiana football scores
Clark went 11-for-16 for 135 yards, a touchdown, two interceptions and a lost fumble. Senior receiver Davin Alexander was Clark’s primary target with 131 yards receiving, including a 77-yard catch-and-run touchdown that opened scoring and a huge fourth-down grab over a Pioneer defensive back that set up one of the Bulldogs’ pivotal second-half scores.
Clark, who started the last two games for the Bulldogs as a freshman last season, lost the fumble on the Bulldogs’ second drive, and his first interception of the third quarter led to a 37-yard touchdown run by the Pioneer’s Micah Oberhausen to tie the score a 7-7.
“You’ve got to keep playing. … He’s a competitive kid. I just tell him, ‘Keep your head up,’” Coultis said. “The defense kept us in it for a while. They figured things out. I’m sure there will be a game this year where the defense is struggling in the first half and the offense is going to keep us in it.”
Oberhausen totaled 95 yards and a touchdown for the Pioneers. Junior quarterback Caleb Lindquist was 8-for-15 for 130 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Junior Jack Wagner hauled in Lindquist’s touchdown pass.
Providence held the momentum early, halting New Albany’s opening drive in Pioneer territory before James Hoke made it through the protection to block the Bulldogs’ punt. The Pioneers took over at the Bulldogs’ 42-yard line with a chance to add to that momentum on the ensuing drive. Oberhausen powered the offense into field-goal range, but senior Evan Striby came up short on the 28-yard field goal.
The miscues kept coming for the Bulldogs. On the following drive, Clark’s forward pass was batted out of his grasp and recovered by Providence junior Brogan Welch. New Albany’s third drive ended with a failed fourth-down conversion, aided by a Hoke sack for Providence.
The Pioneers failed to make the most of those opportunities, though, with two straight three-and-out possessions. The Bulldogs struck first on the ensuing drive via Alexander’s 77-yard catch and run to give New Albany a 7-0 lead at halftime.
Both teams settled in in the second half. Oberhausen’s 37-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter knotted the score with 9:46 left, and Richardson responded with touchdown runs of one and 20 yards. A 37-yard scamper set up the one-yard, walk-in score.
A 56-yard pass from Lindquist to senior Sam Conrad led to a touchdown pass to Wagner early in the fourth to make it 21-14 in favor of New Albany, but a Richardson one-yard run – set up by a questionable pass interference call – sealed the 27-14 final for the Bulldogs.
Next up, New Albany welcomes Castle and Providence hosts Floyd Central, loser of a 34-10 decision to Louisville Male Friday.
NEW ALBANY 27, PROVIDENCE 14
NA – Davin Alexander 77 pass from Dylan Clark (Mahteo Urrego kick), 3:23
P – Micah Oberhausen 37 run (Striby kick), 9:46
NA – Darquan Richardson 1 run (Urrego kick), 6:37
NA – Richardson 20 run (Urrego kick), 46.0
P – Jack Wagner 9 pass from Caleb Lindquist (Striby kick), 10:05
NA – Richardson 1 run (kick blocked), 6:33