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Newton Falls nearly sets record in win

August 30, 2013
By MATT WAGNER - Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

NEWTON FALLS - Entering Thursday night's opener against Rootstown, second-year Newton Falls coach Jon Culp just wanted to see improvement from his team.

Not only did he witness some improvement from the Tigers, but they also almost made history, routing the Rovers at home, 55-7. It marked the first time since the 2004 season that Newton Falls broke the 50-point barrier, and the team flirted with the program's all-time scoring record of 58, set on Oct. 8, 1971, against Lakeview.

The Tigers (1-0) amassed the 55 points with 7:05 remaining in the game.

"I didn't even think about that," Culp said. "I really didn't even know about that, but it was nice to put some points on the board. We have the ability to score some points.

"We just kept attacking them. We wanted to be on task and going after it. Our kids did what they were supposed to do."

The Tigers were ruthless in attack, with a vast majority of it coming on the ground.

Eight different Newton Falls' players rushed the ball, led by starting quarterback Brandon Fuller. The senior rushed for 88 yards on six carries, all of which came in the first half, and he also scored the team's first three touchdowns, all in the first quarter.

Larry Zarlengo gashed the Rovers (0-1) for 116 yards, all but six coming in the first half, and Derek Backherms added 79 yards, as the Tigers averaged 8.9 per carry throughout the game and recorded eight rushes for 20 yards or more.

Along with the dominant running game, Newton Falls added a special teams touchdown on the second-half opening kickoff, when Tyler Marsh scampered 75 yards touched only by the kicker.

"We were going to be running back by committee, and we knew Brandon was going to tote the rock, too," Culp said.

Like the offense, the defense dominated Rootstown, allowing just the one touchdown late in the third quarter. The Rovers recovered a fumble and returned it inside the Tigers' 10-yard line, managing to punch it into the end zone a few plays later on a Sam Todd five-yard touchdown run.

With this being the team's only hiccup, Culp said he was pleased with the defensive performance.

"We gave up a lot of points last year," Culp said. "It was our goal to set a statement from the beginning."

Considering the Tigers came close to setting a new school mark, Culp said this win will boost morale for the program, which went 1-9 in 2012, and he hopes that this can lead to bigger and better things for the team.

"It's definitely easier starting out 1-0 than 0-1," Culp said. "I really think it's about confidence, so if we get our confidence up, we'll see what happens."