Indian Valley wins opener for new coach

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Indian Valley vs Newcomerstown

For a 10-minute stretch of the second quarter the Indian
Valley offense was as hot as the near 100-degree temperature at Lee Stadium. The Braves, under first
year head coach Matt Lancaster, scored four touchdowns in the second quarter
and rode the momentum to a 39-26 victory over host Newcomerstown.


NEWCOMERSTOWN – For a 10-minute stretch of the second
quarter the Indian Valley offense was as hot as the near 100-degree temperature
at Lee Stadium.

The Braves, under first
year head coach Matt Lancaster, scored four touchdowns in the second quarter
and rode the momentum to a 39-26 victory over host Newcomerstown.

“It’s nice to get that
first win out of the way,” Lancaster said. “We were a little shell-shocked in
the first five to eight minutes of the game, but settled down after that and
made big plays when we needed them.”

Not only did the Braves
make big plays on offense, but on defense and special teams as well.

While the offense was
lighting the scoreboard, the defense was forcing five Trojan turnovers and also
returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

The visitors trailed
13-7 after the first play of the second quarter when Newcomerstown’s Justin
Rominger found Nick Snell for a 26-yard touchdown strike and T.J. Wright’s
point after.

After fumbling on their
next possession, Indian Valley held on downs and the offense took over.

Most of the damage was
done by sophomore quarterback Zach Baker, who tossed three scoring aerials in
the second quarter.

The first one covered 75
yards to Brandyn Murtaugh and the second covered 13 yards to Blair Emler.

Emler’s scoring grab was
set up by a fumble recovery and following a Trojan punt Tony Hursey rambled 39
yards for a touchdown. With Murtaugh’s 2-point run the score was 27-13 with
3:42 left in the first half.

Another Trojan fumble
led to Emler’s second scoring grab of the quarter, this one from 26 yards out
with 17.3 seconds left making it 33-13.

“We really hurt
ourselves with mental mistakes in the first half,” Newcomerstown head coach
Jeff Baker said. “At halftime we really challenged our kids and we came out and
got the momentum back in the second half.”

The Trojans took
advantage of field position set up by a fumble of the second half kickoff by
Indian Valley and punched in a score when Justin Stoffer scored from three
yards out to make it 33-20 with 7:00 left in the frame.

Stoffer scored again at
the 1:26 mark to get the hosts within 33-26, but Indian Valley took over the
momentum for good on the following kickoff.

Sophomore Justin
Bickelhimer was inserted to return the kick and return it he did.

Bickelhimer raced 81
yards to pay dirt at the 1:13 mark to close the scoring for Indian Valley.

“He had a good week on
the scout team returning kicks,” Lancaster said. “We had a lot of kids who were
cramping up so we thought we’d give him the shot.”

Baker was proud of his
charges for their effort in the second half.

“We had all the
momentum,” Baker said. “I really felt good about where we were at, but once we
got behind by those two scores we just couldn’t get over the hump.

“Our offense isn’t built
to throw it around every down.”

Stoffer got the scoring
started on the opening drive of the season for Newcomerstown when he hauled in
a 19-yard pass from Rominger for a 6-0 lead.

Indian Valley countered right
back on a 24 yard hook-up from Baker to Emler and Mike Caldwell’s point after
kick made it 7-6 at the 6:08 mark.

Baker had an outstanding
night for Indian Valley throwing for 152 yards and four touchdowns while also
chipping in 58 of the team’s 131 yards rushing.

Emler finished with five
catches for 77 yards.

“Emler killed us in the
first half,” Baker said. “At halftime we decided to put Snell on him and he did
the job shutting him down in the second half.”

The Braves had just one
first down the entire second half and Emler was held without a reception after
halftime.

Stoffer finished the
night with 121 yards rushing and three total touchdowns.

Next week Newcomerstown
takes on Berlin Center Western Reserve while Indian Valley plays Tusky Valley.

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