New Castle’s Taggart Stadium was a house of horrors on Friday the 13th.
With the Ne-Ca-Hi defense playing the Jason Voorhees role to a “T.”
The Red Hurricane defense scored a pair of touchdowns and consistently set its offense up with good field position last night as New Castle blanked Beaver, 45-0, in WPIAL Class 4A Northwest Eight Conference play last night.
“I think the defense had a little chip on their shoulders,” New Castle coach Joe Cowart said. “The defense wanted to prove we’re not a team that gives up 29 (points) per game, which is what we were coming in. We just wanted to be aggressive and do our jobs better. That was the message all week. We didn’t do anything fancy, didn’t make any changes, we just wanted to do what we do best. I thought our guys played with great energy and effort on that side of the ball.”
New Castle (2-1 conference, 3-1 overall) limited the Bobcats (0-3, 1-3) to just 45 yards of total offense on 46 plays and forced five turnovers in bouncing back from its first loss of the season.
“We brought a lot of energy on defense tonight,” New Castle defensive back Jaylan Cox said. “We didn’t bring as much last week (in a 37-21 loss at South Fayette). Tonight, our defense was clicking.”
After a pair of Demetris McKnight touchdown runs (5 and 2 yards) gave the ‘Canes a 14-0 lead, New Castle’s defense got in on the scoring.
Midway through the second quarter, Cox scooped up a fumble by Beaver quarterback Tyler Ziggas and returned it 18 yards for the touchdown. The point-after kick failed, but New Castle had a 20-0 lead with 6:12 remaining before the half.
“Julian Klingensmith came, hit the quarterback, the ball popped loose and I grabbed it,” Cox said. “It felt great to get my first touchdown.”
The Bobcats’ next drive also ended in New Castle points as McKnight stepped in front of a Marco Mamone pass and returned it 30 yards for the score to increase the ‘Canes lead to 26-0.
New Castle’s final score of the first half summed up how its evening went.
A pair of Michael Cox completions to Klingensmith (15 yards) and Jason Williams (37 yards) moved the ‘Canes deep into Beaver territory.
On second-and-2 from the Bobcats’ 20-yard line, McKnight gained 8 yards on a run before the football was punched out. New Castle offensive lineman Bernie Fabian grabbed the loose ball and rumbled the final 12 yards for the touchdown with 1:14 remaining before the half to give the ‘Canes a 33-0 edge.
“It feels pretty good,” said the 6-4, 310-pound Fabian on finding the end zone for the first time in his career. “(Scoring) was the last thing I was thinking about. I was just running behind Demetris, the ball popped loose and I caught it.”
New Castle wasted little time in invoking the “mercy rule,” as it took the second-half kickoff and again found paydirt. On the third snap of the third quarter, McKnight bounced it outside and raced 41 yards for the score to increase the lead to 39-0. McKnight led all rushers with 77 yards in limited action.
Junior Malachi Sherman closed out the scoring with a 12-yard TD run midway through the third quarter.
The ‘Canes will host West Mifflin in a non-conference game Friday.
“Our guys have showed a good resolve throughout the course of the year,” Cowart said.
“Our guys have shown the ability to play through valleys, now, we’ve just got to begin to limit valleys and the slow moments in games. Just imagine if our team can put four quarters together of the type of football that we can play. We haven’t put together four solid quarters yet. And, it’s our job as a coaching staff to help them do it.”
BEAVER 0 0 0 0 — 0
NEW CASTLE 7 26 12 0 — 45
NEW CASTLE — Demetris McKnight, 5-yard run (Donny Cade kick).
NEW CASTLE — McKnight, 2-yard run (Cade kick).
NEW CASTLE — Jaylan Cox, 18-yard fumble return (kick failed).
NEW CASTLE — McKnight, 30-yard interception return (kick failed).
NEW CASTLE — Bernie Fabian, 12-yard fumble return (Cade kick).
NEW CASTLE — McKnight, 41-yard run (kick failed).
NEW CASTLE — Malachi Sherman, 12-yard run (kick failed).