It may not be the Pony Express backfield, but Newbury Park will settle for Panther Power.
Eric Craig and Sean McLeod form an effective duo for the Panthers at running back. They share the carries--and block for each another.
Each scored two touchdowns Thursday night to lead Newbury Park to a 29-0 victory over Buena at Thousand Oaks High.
Craig finished with 16 carries for 48 yards, while McLeod had 14 carries for 50 yards.
Craig, a 6-3, 215-pound fullback, also caught three passes for 66 yards. Two of the senior’s catches resulted in touchdowns. Both times, he barreled over several Buena defenders.
“I love to run over people,” said Craig, who had scoring catches of 32 and 24 yards. “Sean and I like to switch off the blocking for each other. It’s just power running.”
Newbury Park Coach Ken Cook said he doesn’t plan for the backs to have equal numbers. But games like this, he said, “keep them both happy.”
Cook was especially happy with his defense, which allowed just 60 yards. “Our defense totally dominated,” he said. “We didn’t give their offense a chance.”
Craig scored the only touchdown of the first half on a screen pass from quarterback Jayson Merrill.
The 32-yard play came with 3:38 left in the first quarter. The extra-point try was blocked.
Newbury Park made it 8-0 with seven minutes left in the third quarter when Buena punter Jammal Brown watched the snap fly over his head and out of the end zone.
After Buena’s kickoff, the Panthers (2-1) drove 57 yards in eight plays, Merrill culminating the drive with a 24-yard pass to Craig. Merrill had an efficient game, completing 10 of 13 passes for 206 yards.
McLeod, a 5-10, 155-pound tailback, concluded the scoring with runs of four and five yards in the fourth quarter.
With the loss, Buena’s Bulldgos fell to 2-1. Buena had recorded victories over Royal (28-20) and Thousand Oaks (8-7) but could not generate anything against the Panthers.
“It was just one of those nights where everything we called on defense worked,” Cook said. “We controlled from the beginning, but we just did not score in the first half.
“In the second half, we just put things together.”
While nearly everything Newbury Park tried worked, nearly everything the Bulldgos tried failed.