By Joey Sheiner and Zach Lightsey (video)
NEWBERRY — Quarterback Keil Mcgriff tossed two touchdown passes, running back Kaleb Woods rushed for two scores and fellow running back Amarion Cason also ran for a TD in the Panthers’ 34-0 win against the Chiefland Indians.
Newberry’s Balanced Approach Paid Off Early
After stopping Chiefland (2-3) on the game’s opening drive, Newberry (4-1) marched down the field with confidence. The Panthers paired physical running from Woods with Mcgriff’s accurate passes to wide receiver Hayden Moore.
Mcgriff and Moore linked up three times on the opening drive, the last of which went 21 yards for a touchdown to make the score 6-0 halfway through the first quarter.
Momentum Shift Helps Panthers Push On
After the teams combined for three punts, Chiefland’s offense was sparked in the second quarter by running back Osten Jones, who ripped off solid runs of 11 and 13 yards.
The Indians reached the Newberry 42-yard line before quarterback Matthew Goodale was intercepted by Panthers defensive back Ian Hubbert.
The shift in momentum helped Newberry to get down the field again, and the drive ended in another Mcgriff 21-yard passing touchdown, this time to receiver Christian Rich. Kicker Zane Spires converted the extra point to put the home team up 13-0 late in the first half.
Despite being down 13-0 at halftime, Chiefland’s players and coaching staff knew that they were still in the game and could pull off the win if they made some adjustments.
“We need to get some pass rush on the quarterback,” Chiefland statistician Rob Cox said at halftime. “His uniform is way too clean right now. We’re playing hard, but we need to get pressure on him.”
Chiefland Miscues, Woods Put Game Away
Newberry received the ball first in the second half and wasted no time in extending the lead.
A kickoff return by Hubbert got the ball out to the 50-yard line. A 33-yard run by Woods set Newberry up for a 2-yard Woods touchdown run. The Panthers went for the two-point conversion, which Mcgriff converted to make the score 21-0.
The Panthers had a chance to extend their lead early in the third quarter after a Chiefland fumble set them up at the 15-yard line. However, Mcgriff threw an interception in the end zone.
The third quarter ended with a Newberry missed field goal and two Chiefland punts.
Panthers Close It Out
Newberry received a punt at its own 44-yard line to start the fourth quarter. This time NHS made no mistakes in putting the game out of Chiefland’s reach.
With Cason mixing into the backfield along with Woods, they sliced through the Indians’ defense on the ground, culminating in a 20-yard rushing score by Woods for a 27-0 Newberry advantage.
“The offensive line blocked well, I ran well, and the receivers blocked well,” Woods said. “Everyone played their part.”
Another Chiefland interception gave the Panthers a short field, and they took advantage with a 2-yard Cason rushing score to make it 34-0.
After a blown coverage by Newberry gave Chiefland a chance to score on the last drive of the game, but an end-zone interception ended the game.
Newberry has an open date next week and plays again Oct. 6, when it faces Williston at home. Chiefland looks to bounce back next week at home against Trenton.