Senior wide receiver Micah Wright caught seven passes for 127 yards and a touchdown, kicked an extra point, intercepted a pass and stroked a field goal, as the Newark Reds went to the air for a 16-0 win over Penn Yan on Friday night.
Reds quarterback Phil Tack completed 12 of 30 passes for 221 yards, with a 5-yard touchdown to Wright.
The Mustangs kept the ball on the ground, rushing 44 times for a total of 183 yards, with John Martisch getting 17 carries for 68 yards and Alex Madigan making 81 yards on 18 carries.
Newark opened the scoring in the first quarter as the Reds defense bottled up the Mustangs on their first play for a two-yard loss. Then, in second-and-eight from the Penn Yan 6-yard line, quarterback Derek Sisson turned to hand the ball to Martisch. Problem was, Martisch had already been joined in the backfield by Justin Mitchinson, who was wrapping up Martisch from behind. Sisson had his own problems, because Ben Gardner and Sidney Conner already had ahold of him. The ball was somewhere between Martisch and Sisson when Justin Patterson stuck his nose between the Mustangs, and the resultant fumble was pounced on by Gardner. Four plays later, Wright kicked an 11-yard field goal and Newark was ahead, 3-0, with 6:56 gone.
Penn Yan built an extensive 16-play drive, one of several in the game, but ran out of steam on the Newark 35-yard line — a recurrent problem for the Mustangs.
In Newark's first possession of the second period, Tack decided to test the air. He had thrown two incomplete passes to this point, but now looked for Wright and looked long. Wright caught three passes (11, 19 and 35 yards), and the Reds were on the Penn Yan 5-yard line. On the second try, Tack connected with Wright one more time for a 5-yard touchdown and Newark had a 10-0 lead.
The last touchdown drive was Newark's quickest, a five-play, 47-yard strike that ended with Ronel Rooks's 5-yard plunge with 8:51 left in the game. Wright's point-after kick was tipped.
Wright said his offensive totals for the night were pretty satisfying, but admitted that he and several other players on both sides were cramping up. "The cramps became a pretty big factor," he said. "I'm sure we'll work on conditioning next week."
"I thought the game went well," Wright added. "We had a couple of rough edges on offense — incomplete passes, missed plays, having to call timeouts — but that's first-game stuff and we'll work it out."
Coach Mike McGavisk agreed. "We were sloppy at times but you have to give credit to Penn Yan: they have some good players and executed well. I'm proud of our defense getting a shutout."
He noted that early in the game the Reds were stopping Martisch and Madigan with gang tackling as the big backs waded across the line of scrimmage.
Page 2 of 2 - "Early on, we didn't do a good job of wrapping people up," the coach said. "As the game went on, we were finishing our tackles much better. We have live tackling in practice but you can never simulate game speed and Penn Yan had a lot of strong, tough kids. I'm proud of our guys — they hung in there."