Sep. 18—ARCHBOLD — Senior quarterback DJ Newman, a talented corps of receivers, and some superb line play in between them added up to a convincing 41-7 victory by Archbold on Friday night in a key Northwest Ohio Athletic League football game against visiting Liberty Center.
Newman had a hand in all six Archbold scores, completing 12 of 16 passes for 203 yards and four touchdowns, and running 11 times for 94 yards and two TDs.
Three of the aerial touchdowns went to senior receiver Gavin Bailey, who scored on catches of 42, 8, and 15 yards. The fourth strike went 28 yards to Karter Behnfeldt.
"It was unbelievable," Newman said of the performance of his offensive line. "That was the big doubt.
"Everyone was saying how the [Archbold] line was going to cave in. But they proved those doubters wrong. I gave all the credit to the line."
After spotting the Tigers a 7-0 lead 45 seconds into the game, the Blue Streaks (5-0, 2-0 NWOAL), Ohio's No. 2-ranked Division VI team, took a commanding 28-7 lead to the break.
Liberty Center (3-2, 1-1) got on the board first following a botched Archbold effort on the game's opening kickoff. When no Blue Streak player covered Kyle Huffman's kickoff, the Tigers recovered at the Archbold 27.
One play later, Tigers back TeJay Moore ran 19 yards around left end for a touchdown, and the extra-point kick gave Liberty Center the quick 7-0 edge.
Archbold bounced back impressively.
"Obviously, we had that lapse early on, but our guys really buckled down," Archbold coach David Dominique said. "We knew it was going to be a battle, and that we had to come out and be physical, and we did that.
"Our game plan was to make them string out drives, and it worked to our advantage. Our offense was able to take advantage of some one-on-one coverage, and our O-line gave us all the time in the world tonight. So, everything kind of worked in our favor."
Newman went 5-of-6 for 75 yards passing on the Streaks' first possession and connected with Bailey on the 42-yard TD pass to tie the game with 8:28 left in the first quarter.
"With a quarterback like D.J., it's just fantastic," Bailey said. "He finds any open receiver, and he has the ability to move with his feet and make plays.
"A lot of it was the coaches with the game-planning, and also the defense for doing a great job stopping their offense."
Next, Archbold needed to cover just 41 yards after an LC punt, and Newman found Behnfeldt on the 28-yard scoring pass with 5:35 left in the first quarter.
The Blue Streaks pushed their lead to 21-7 with 9:54 left in the half when Newman found Bailey again from eight yards out.
Just before halftime, Archbold drove 67 yards on eight plays, helped by a pass interference penalty on the Tigers.
Newman capped the march on a 6-yard keeper for the touchdown, and Krayton Kern's fourth extra-point kick of the half made it 28-7 with 17 seconds remaining.
Archbold added touchdowns on the third Newman-to-Bailey strike, this one in the third quarter, and Newman ran five yards for the game's final TD in the fourth.
"We knew we were going to go at their DBs," Newman said, "and then [running back] Carson Dominique was running guys over left and right.
"This gives us a lot of momentum going into next week, and I'm excited for it.
"Our expectations are through the roof."
The Blue Streaks topped the Tigers 345-262 in total offense, despite Liberty Center holding a 29:33 to 18:27 advantage in possession time.
"We knew coming in that they're a really, really good team, and they've got a lot of athletes all over the field," Tigers coach Casey Mohler said. "But, the thing was, they were just more physical than us tonight. With how many good athletes they have, that just kind of rubs salt in the wounds.
"Physically, they just beat us up. It's kind of a sinking feeling when that happens to you. We tried to do both [stop the run and pass], but again, there's only so much you can do when they've got so many athletes and they spread you out."
Behnfeldt had four catches for 105 yards, and Bailey had seven grabs for 94 yards.
"We just have to keep playing well," Bailey said. "We can't look at the rankings and think we're better than other people. We have to keep coming out firing."
For Liberty Center, which had 206 yards on 43 rushes, Moore had 14 carries for 64 yards, and Matthew Orr had 14 carries for 61 yards.
Tigers quarterback Zane Zeiter was 5-of-16 for 56 yards passing.
"We want to be as balanced as possible but, any given week, we've got to be able to adjust on the fly and make plays," coach Dominique said. "D.J. makes us look really good. He makes me look good as a coach. He just makes plays left and right, and he's a great kid. That's even better — he's a team-first player.
"We keep improving. That's the biggest part. We still have room to grow."
First Published September 17, 2021, 6:07pm