With both sets of stands nearly filled to capacity last night, the Paris Tigers took care of the Newton Eagles by the score of 41-8.
The win evens the Tigers’ record at 3-3 on the season and 2-2 in the Little Illini Conference while Newton is eliminated from postseason play with a 1-5 record overall and a 1-3 record in the LIC.
Paris won the coin toss and for the first time this season and elected to receive the opening kickoff. The Tigers were backed up to their own six-yard line following a holding penalty. That did not stop the Tigers from mounting their longest drive of the season. Paris kept the ball on the ground and exposed the interior of the Eagle defense with 12 of their 14 plays resulting in handoffs. Mason Byrnes capped things off with a 12-yard scamper for a touchdown with 5:52 left in the opening quarter. The extra point was missed but the Tigers led it 6-0.
Newton took the ensuing kickoff into Tiger territory, but the drive was halted and the Eagles were forced to punt. Paris took over at their own 30-yard line and commenced to score on just two plays. Byrnes picked up 13 on the first play before quarterback Drew Rogers found Ty King on a stop-and-go route for a 62-yard score. Rogers scrambled and found Byrnes in the back of the endzone for the two-point conversion to make the score 14-0 with 3:20 remaining in the first quarter.
After forcing Newton to punt on their next possession, Kalvin Rigdon blocked the Eagle punt and recovered the ball at the five-yard line. However, Paris could not find the end zone after three straight running plays and had to settle for a 20-yard field goal from King to make the score 17-0 on the final play of the first period.
For their third straight possession, the Eagles failed to make a first down and punted the ball back to the Tigers. Rogers found his favorite target of the evening once again as King caught a quick slant and outpaced the Eagle defense to the 18-yard line. As was the case on the previous drive, Byrnes finished things off with an 18-yard score to cap a two-play drive. King added the extra point making it 24-0 with 9:30 left in the first half.
Newton converted their first first down of the game with 8:36 left in the second quarter. However, after moving the ball inside the Tiger 35-yard line, freshman cornerback Andre Calhoun tipped the pass from Newton’s quarterback Max Meinhart. King was the right man in the right spot and plucked the ball off the top of the grass for an interception.
This time, the Tigers were having no more of those two play drives. Rigdon took the handoff from Rogers and outran the Eagle defense for a 77-yard touchdown. King added the extra point to make it 31-0 with 5:34 remaining and the rout was on. Paris chewed the final four minutes off the clock and capped off their final drive with a 27-yard field goal from King to make the score 34-0 at the half.
The final score of the night for the Tigers came with 6:23 left in the third quarter as Rogers found Robert Wells for a 20-yard catch-and-run. King added the extra point to make it 41-0 and create a running clock for the remainder of the game. Newton scored with a little over six minutes and converted the two-point conversion to arrive at the final score.
Rogers completed nine of 16 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns. King had the best receiving night of his career as the junior wideout caught five passes for 136 yards and a score. Wells caught his only pass of the night and found the endzone for his first touchdown of the season. Karic Vitale caught one pass for 19 yards and Rigdon hauled in two catches for eight yards.
On the ground, Rigdon was the leading rusher with four carries for 97 yards and a score. Byrnes carried the ball seven times for 76 yards, a pair of touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Curl had trouble ripping off the chunk yardage plays that Tiger fans have become accustomed to over the first five games, but the senior tailback had 43 yards on 12 carries and the first touchdown of the game. Rogers added 28 yards on three carries, King added seven on his lone tote and Skyler Sweet had two yards on three carries in the fourth quarter.
The Tiger defense held the Eagles to just 31 yards through the air and exactly 100 yards on the ground.
Paris will hit the road for the next two weeks, with a trip to Olney on the docket for Friday, Oct. 6.