ZANESVILLE The showdown between New Philadelphia and Zanesville turned into a one-man show Friday night.
But it was not by a player wearing a Quaker uniform.
Zanesville’s JT McFarland scored all five of his team’s touchdowns and Blue Devils quarterback Thomas Wibbeler completed all of his passing attempts in the second half as the hosts pulled away for a 33-14 win over New Philadelphia.
The Quakers lost their first game, dropping to 7-1 overall and 3-1 in the Scarlet Division of the East Central Ohio League, but probably still will clinch a Division II, Region 5 playoff spot with a win Friday over visiting John Glenn. Zanesville (7-1, 2-1), meanwhile, certainly answered the call after last week’s loss at Dover.
“You have to give (the Blue Devils) all the credit for this one tonight,” said New Philadlephia coach Matt Dennison.
“They outplayed us in every aspect of the game and they were more hungry, more physical and more prepared to play tonight.
“We just did not respond to the challenge tonight.”
The Quakers actually appeared to have all of the momentum near the end of the third quarter when junior tailback Jamal Johnson scored on one of the most unbelievable runs of his career. Johnson took off to his right on second and goal from the Zanesville 7, was stuffed by a handful of Blue Devils at the line of scrimmage, but then bolted away and outran the whole defense to the left sideline, where he dived over the goal line to cut Zanesville’s lead to 19-14.
But McFarland and the Devils answered.
The junior do-everything back and receiver scored on a 3-yard run with 7:37 left in the fourth quarter and added a pretty 5-yard leaping TD grab from Wibbeler a couple of minutes later to seal the win for the hosts, who most certainly have clinched a playoff spot in Division II, Region 7. McFarland scored two rushing touchdowns and caught three scoring passes, and Wibbeler completed 25 of 29 passes for 352 yards, completing 15 in a row to close the game.
“That kid (McFarland) simply makes plays, and we knew he was their playmaker,” Dennison said. “We just couldn’t shut him down.”
Johnson finished with 183 yards rushing on 39 carries for the Quakers, including 19 rushes in the third quarter alone.
New Philadelphia was down 12-7 at the half, but could have held a decent lead if a couple of drives had panned out. Instead, the Quakers missed on two field goal attempts and came up with no points.
The Quakers made two strong defensive plays on Zanesville’s opening pair of possessions, as junior linebacker Nick Incarnato intercepted a Wibbeler pass on the Devils’ second offensive play and sophomore lineman Jeff Virden sacked Wibbeler on a fourth-down play.
New Philadelphia took advantage of the Virden play, marching 65 yards in seven plays for a touchdown on a 5-yard run by Dakota Hill in the first quarter.
The Devils, though, got things going in the second quarter as McFarland ran in from a yard out, but a missed extra-point kick left the Quakers in the lead at 7-6. Zanesville’s Dartavious Stanford came up with an interception at the 2:58 mark before halftime, and the Devils needed less than two minutes and only five plays to take the lead when Wibbeler rifled a 41-yard catch-and-run pass to McFarland for the touchdown. The Devils missed on a pass play for the conversion.
A tough statistic for the Quakers in the first half: they failed to complete a pass.
“We knew their secondary was very athletic and that they would be difficult to pass on,” Dennison said. “But we have to be more crisp on our routes and improve the timing overall. We have some work to do, and we’re going to get back after it. There is plenty to play for right now.”