Most of the Paris Tiger players and coaches wanted to forget last week’s narrow victory over the Newton Eagles — but instead they used it as a valuable teaching tool.
Kudos to the players for taking those talking points to heart, as the Tigers routed the Casey-Westfield Warriors Friday night by the score of 45-14 before a rowdy crowd at Tiger Stadium.
With the victory, the Tigers move to 2-0 on the season and also in the Little Illini Conference, while Casey falls to 0-2.
Unlike last week, the Tiger offense moved methodically up and down the field all night without committing a turnover. In all, the Tigers gained 474 yards of total offense, with 285 of those coming on the ground.
In a somewhat similar scenario to last week’s game, the Warriors received the ball first, and proceeded to drive the ball deep in to Tiger territory. Just like last week, the Tiger defense flexed its muscle and forced the Warriors into a 31-yard field goal attempt. The kick was no good and the Tiger offense took control.
After a pair of Coy Landrum runs for six yards, junior wide receiver Garrett King took the handoff from quarterback Hunter Newlin on an end around rumbling 80-yards for the first score of the game. The extra point was blocked giving the Tigers a 6-0 lead with 6:07 left in the opening quarter.
Casey began its next possession at their own 25-yard line and proceeded to run the ball eight consecutive times. The combination of Thor Stepina and Storm Washburn accounted for 57 yards on the ground to go along with a pass interference call against the Tigers.
What some Tiger fans might have missed in this extended drive was a touchdown saving tackle at the six yard line by the brother combination of Carter and Chase Hays.
Facing a fourth and goal at the Tiger three-yard line, Stepina was swallowed up in his own backfield by a host of Tigers and the Warriors turned the ball over on downs.
Backed up in the shadow of their own end zone, the Tigers embarked on a 10-play, 95-yard drive. With a third-and-14 staring them in the face, Newlin connected with Mason Hutchings for a 56-yard pass play to set the Tigers up with a first and goal at the five-yard line. Newlin called his own number on the next play and found the end zone to make the score 12-0. The two-point conversion failed.
As had been the case all night long, Casey began their next drive with excellent field position at their own 48-yard line. Paris forced a three-and-out and took over deep in their own territory once again.
Newlin completed a pass to King on first down for 18 yards to give the Tigers some breathing room. Coy Landrum then ripped off a 43-yard run down the visitors sideline to give the Tigers a first down at the Warrior 29-yard line. Five plays later, Newlin found Nathan Zorn from 15-yards away for the third score of the game. Newlin then hit Sam Mays in the corner of the end zone for the two-point conversion to make the score 20-0 Paris.
Trying to gain any kind of momentum going into the half, Casey started their next drive on their own 45-yard line. Following an offensive holding call, Carter Hays tipped a pass from quarterback Aden Brenton and Jude Sullivan plucked the ball out of the air and returned it 36 yards for another score withjust 28 seconds after the last score to make the Paris lead 26-0.
Fortune would bounce the Paris way on their next possession, but this time in an unexpected way.
Mays lined up to punt the ball away after the Tiger offense was held to a three-and-out — the only time all night long.
The punt returner for Casey signaled for a fair catch, but the ball bounced off of his hands and right into the arms of long-snapper Mason Hutchings.
Facing a fourth-and-14, Newlin tucked the ball and ran for 29-yards to give the Tigers a first down at the Casey 35 with just 0:01 left on the clock. Following a Tiger timeout, Newlin found a wide-open Hutchings in the end zone to make it 32-0 at intermission.
With the running clock clearly in their sights coming out of the locker room, the Tiger offense went to work quickly and scored just 1:21 in to the second half. Landrum scored from 63-yards away on the third play from scrimmage to give the Tigers a 38-0 lead.
Playing on both sides of the ball is something that is normal for schools the size of Paris, but contributing on both sides is something entirely different.
Carter Hays stepped in front of the first pass from Brenton on the next Warrior possession for the second interception by the Tigers of the night. Four plays later he was rewarded as a Casey defender tipped the pass from Danny Perry, but Hays corralled it and scored from 49-yards out. The extra point by King was good and the Tigers led 45-0, starting running clock for the remainder of the game.
Along with the 285 yards on the ground, the Tigers added 189 through the air on 9-12 passing by their two quarterbacks. Newlin was 8-for-11 for 140 yards and two scores — and did not play the final 16 minutes of the contest. Perry completed his only pass attempt for 49 yards and a score.
Landrum led the rushing attack for the Tigers as he gained 149 yards on just eight carries, and scored once. King gained 80 yards on his only carry of the night and scored. Along with his successful night passing, Newlin gained 24 yards on the ground and a score. Nathan Zorn carried five times for 24 yards, Eli Board had one carry for eight yards, Perry carried twice for seven yards and Hutchings added four yards on a pair of touches.
Hutchings added three catches for 74-yards and a touchdown and Carter Hays caught two passes for 59-yards and a score. Landrum caught a pair of passes for 23 yards, King had one grab for 18 yards and Zorn caught his only ball for 15-yards and a touchdown.
A slightly more relieved Coach Jeremy Clodfelder expressed joy over his team’s response following a rather lackluster performance last week.
“I thought we did a really good job of bringing the energy tonight. We didn’t really have a lot of energy last week, and I felt like our kids kind of rose up and played to the level that we expect from them.”
Clodfelder praised the fans and the atmosphere that they created at Tiger Stadium.
“I thought that the crowd matched the enthusiasm from the cheerleaders and the band tonight, and that went a long way in determining the success that we had on the field,” he said.
Next week brings a different routine for the Paris football players and coaches as the Tigers travel to Lawrenceville for a Saturday afternoon contest against the winless Indians.
Kickoff is set for at 2 p.m.