The New Palestine football team had a record-setting night as it clinched the Class 5A Sectional 12 championship Friday night, beating Anderson 78-0.
The Dragons set a school record for victory margin in the title-clinching contest. Junior running back Charlie Spegal also set marks for yards from scrimmage in a game (418) and touchdowns in a game (8), as well as tying the mark for rushing TDs (7).
The top-ranked Dragons improved to 11-0 on the season and will travel to Harrison (6-5) in next week’s regional. Anderson finished the season 3-8.
NP had a dominant performance on the offensive side, flexing its muscles early as Spegal took the third play from scrimmage 50 yards for a TD, and then carried for much of a 95-yard TD drive that gave the Dragons an early 14-0 lead. The Dragons scored on their first nine possessions, including all eight started by the varsity offense.
Spegal added a 7-yard TD run in the first quarter. In the second, he tallied TD runs of 2 and 42 yards and reeled in a 54-yard screen pass. Luke Ely also recovered a fumble in the end zone to give NP a 48-0 halftime lead.
Spegal added touchdowns of 5 and 16 by the halfway mark of the third quarter to push the lead to 62-0. NP added with Jacob Hockett tackling an Anderson player in the end zone on a screen pass for a safety and two TDs by the second unit – a 8-yard run by Luke Canfield and a 13-yard run by Grant Wiegand.
Spegal carried 23 times for 364 yards and the seven touchdowns, the second-highest rushing total in school history and the second-highest of his career. Wiegand added 104 yards rushing and also had an interception on defense. As a team, NP ran for 559 yards, third-most in school history and their second 550-yard game in three weeks. Zach Neligh threw for 132 yards – with 70 going to Kade Large, 54 to Spegal and eight to Ryker Large. NP amassed 690 total yards.
Defensively, Kyle King had four sacks as the Dragons got to Anderson quarterback Xander Stokes nine times in the contest. Stokes was 24-of-37 for 150 yards, with 16 passes and 120 yards going to Malachi Qualls.
The Dragons won their 10th sectional title, joining championships won in 1987, 1989, 1990, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2013, 2014 and 2015. NP will be seeking its sixth regional title next week.
Notes: In the contest, Spegal also became the ninth back in state history to rush for 7,000 yards. He now has 7.009 and needs five yards to move into eighth place on the state career rushing list and 211 to move into seventh. He also moved to the top of NP’s career scoring list with 368 points, passing Alex Neligh (336). Spegal now ranks 10th in IHSAA history in career scoring with 668 points and fourth in single-season scoring. He needs four points to move into third place on the single-season list. Kropp kicked 10 PATs and now has 100 points for the regular season (157 for his career). He is 88-91 on PATs this season. The 690-yard effort marked the 13th time in 75 games under Coach Ralph the Dragons have tallied 600 yards or more, including three this season. NP has broken the 500-yard mark 31 times, including six this season. … The 559-yard rushing effort is third-most in school history. The record is 574, set Oct. 12 against Delta, which broke the previous mark of 565, set in 2015 against Pendleton Heights. … NP has faced its regional foe Harrison once, falling 17-0 in 1993. … With a 21-point first quarter, NP has now outscored its foes 282-0 in the opening 12 minutes of games. … The Dragons held Anderson to minus-56 yards rushing, the second time this season NP has held a team below zero rushing yards.
Class 5A Sectional 12 championship
At Kelso Stadium
Anderson (3-8) 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 — 0
New Palestine (11-0) 21-27-23-7 — 78
NP-C.Spegal 50 run (Kropp kick), 9:03
NP-C.Spegal 7 run (Kropp kick), 2:55
NP-C.Spegal 9 run (Kropp kick), :29
NP-C.Spegal 2 run (Kropp kick), 5:09
NP-C.Spegal 42 run (kick blocked), 2:50
NP-Ely fumble recovery in end zone (Kropp kick), 1:30
NP-C.Spegal 54 pass from Neligh (Kropp kick), :32
NP-C.Spegal 5 run (Kropp kick), 11:00
NP-C.Spegal 16 run (Kropp kick), 8:29
NP-Safety: Hockett tackled runner in end zone, 7:38
NP-Canfield 8 run (Kropp kick), 4:26
NP-Wiegand 13 run (Kropp kick), 5:23
First downs: NP 24, A 7
Rushes-yards: NP 47-559, A 17-(-56)
Passing C-A-I: NP 6-12-0 131, A 24-37-1
Passing yards: NP 131, A 151
Total offense: A 54-95
Penalties-yards: NP 10-82, A 11-62
Fumbles-lost: NP 1-1, A 1-1
Rushing: Stokes 13-(-42), Dennison 2-(-6), Gray 1-(-5), Neathery-Carter 1-(-3)
Passing: Stokes 24-37-1-150
Receiving: Qualls 17-120, Anderson 4-28, Dennison 4-3
Rushing: C.Spegal 23-364, Wiegand 6-104, Canfield 7-43, Roth 6-21, Jenkins 1-17, Luker 1-13, E.Ely 1-4, De.Spegal 2-(-7)
Passing: Neligh 5-11-0-132, Roth 1-1-0-(-1)
Receiving: K.Large 3-70, Spegal 1-54, R.Large 1-8, Canfield 1-(-1)