Bulldogs turn in all-around effort en route to 42-14 win
New Albany football coach Sean Coultis strives to make an opposing offense left-handed, taking away its strengths in an effort to expose its weaknesses.
The Bulldogs’ defense met that standard during a 42-14 thumping of rival Jeffersonville at the Red Devils’ Blair Field on Friday night.
Jeffersonville’s potent offense posted less than 200 yards, as the defense kept pressure on senior quarterback Cam Northern while limiting senior running back Jordan Barnett to just 53 yards on 15 carries. Northern completed only three passes. He was sacked twice and forced out of the pocket five times.
Coultis said he learned his lesson from defending Northern in last year’s last-minute sectional loss. So the coach turned up the heat and forced the senior to beat the Bulldogs outside of his comfort zone.
“In that playoff game, he was sitting back there forever,” Coultis said. “So I made up my mind in the offseason – when we play these guys, if we got him in that predictable passing situation, we’re going to come after him.”
GALLERY: New Albany at Jeffersonville
READ MORE: Richardson leads Bulldogs past Red Devils
Otherwise, New Albany turned in a balanced first-half effort on offense. Junior running back Darquan Richardson ran for 139 yards before intermission, while sophomore quarterback Dylan Clark threw for 101.
New Albany went to Richardson early and often, creating Clark’s opportunities through the air. The sophomore threw two touchdowns in the first half, one a 5-yard strike to sophomore Devon Gummer off of play-action and the other a 15-yard toss to senior Davin Alexander with the second quarter winding down.
The Bulldogs led 26-7 at the break. Richardson reached 218 yards in three quarters, and Alexander hauled in six receptions for 77 yards.
“If you put eight in the box, it puts you in a one-high defense,” Coultis said. “Now your safety’s in the middle of the field, and Davin Alexander is one-on-one. You want to double Davin? Good, you’ve got seven in the box and we’ll run the ball.”
Coultis on Friday praised the work of first-year offensive coordinator Steve Cooley, a longtime head coach, most recently at Clarksville. Coultis said Cooley’s hiring got mixed reviews due to his tenure with the Generals, a program lacking resources.
“We’re lucky to have him,” Coultis said. “I heard some people say some negative stuff when I hired him. … He clearly knows what he’s doing. He just needed some weapons.”
Special teams, as it has many times this season, also helped the Bulldogs, especially in the second half. After New Albany opened scoring in the first quarter, Jeffersonville junior running back Kam Fuller returned a Bulldogs squib kick to their 10-yard line, setting up a three-play scoring drive.
New Albany then turned to the onside kick, recovering three in the second half alone. Fuller finished with 123 of Jeffersonville’s 197 yards of total offense. He broke free for a 73-yard touchdown run in the second half.
“We ended up onside kicking the rest of the game,” Coultis said, “because I tried squibbing to keep it out of Fuller’s hands, and that didn’t work. So we were onside kicking – not necessarily so we could get the ball. … Special teams is big. It’s been big all year for us.”
Class 6A No. 13 New Albany (5-2, 4-1 Hoosier Hills) now sits in second place in league standings behind 5-0 Columbus East, which matches up with third-place Jeffersonville (3-4, 3-2) on Saturday.