Going into Friday night’s game against visiting Maconaquah, the Lewis Cass football team found itself in an unusual position — looking up at the Braves in the Mid-Indiana Conference standings.
Mac entered the game at 4-1 in league play with its title hopes very much alive, while the Kings were 3-2. But for the 15th straight time and 20th time in the last 21 contests between the MIC foes, Cass came out on top, 36-14.
The heroes were many for Cass, and five turnovers by the Braves were too many to overcome. Combining stellar defense and a consistent rushing offense, Cass held Mac at bay.
In a first half that saw both teams squander goal-line opportunities, Cass built a 14-0 lead on a four-yard scoring plunge by Brendan McGehee and a 14-yard TD run by Hunter Clark.
The key moment in the game came in the third quarter. After the Kings lost a fumble at their 22 on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, the Braves quickly took advantage, scoring five plays later on Cody Hicks’ eight-yard run off right tackle to cut the margin to 14-7. Mac seemed poised to make a challenge.
But Cass (5-3 overall, 4-2 MIC) answered with a nine-play, 60-yard march that reached paydirt when McGehee skirted right end from 28 yards out for his second TD to put Cass back in front by two TDs and kill Mac’s momentum.
Cass coach Scott Mannering noted, “That was probably the turning point. I know they had a lot of confidence after they got that first score in, and to be able to answer that was just huge.”
Mac (5-3, 4-2) never quit. The Braves drove from their 40 to the Kings’ 25, but diminutive sophomore Conner Zeck, who grabbed three interceptions on the night, picked off Kyle Dinn’s pass to end the threat.
Cass enhanced its lead early in the fourth when McGehee broke loose again, this time from 24 yards, to make it 28-7, and Payton Young ran in the two-point conversion. But Mac answered quickly when K.J. Walton returned the ensuing kickoff 68 yards for a score to make it 28-14 with 7:35 to play.
But another interception by the 5-foot-4, 135-pound Zeck stopped Mac, and a two-yard TD plunge by Gabe Welch five plays later made it 34-14. On the conversion, 285-pound senior lineman Brady Barber played running back and capped the Kings’ senior night with a two-point run up the middle.
Maconaquah coach Mark Hartman was disappointed in his team’s performance. Coming in on a four-game win streak and bidding for their first five-game winning streak since 1991, the Braves hurt themselves with mistakes.
“It’s a simple fact,” he said, “we did not execute. We played well in spurts, but when you’re playing a team as well-coached and disciplined as Cass, you can’t play hit-and-miss football. You have to have all cylinders firing, and [Friday] we did not.”
Maconaquah hosts Taylor Friday to close the regular season. Maconaquah drew a home game against Fairfield in Class 3A Sectional 26.
— Mike Blatt
NORTHWESTERN 37, PERU 18
Northwestern’s football team scored a 37-18 victory over host Peru on Friday night in a Mid-Indiana Conference game that had a scary moment.
Northwestern two-way standout Michael Plummer collapsed to the field in the second quarter. The Tiger senior was seen going out to the huddle before he collapsed. He was taken by ambulance to Dukes Memorial Hospital and then taken by LifeLine to Fort Wayne's Lutheran Hospital.
Northwestern coach John Hendryx reported over the weekend that Plummer had a concussion and was recovering. He underwent CT scans Friday night and Saturday, with the second one showing a reduction in the hemorrhage. Plummer remained in the hospital as of Sunday night.
Northwestern assistant coach Jordan Dyer credited the team with handling the difficult situation as well as possible.
“Hats off to our senors. They are brothers. Every single one of them. Hats off to them for getting the team re-focused,” said Dyer.
The Purple Tigers (5-3, 3-3 MIC) grabbed control in the first half, taking a 24-6 lead into halftime.
“Really, for the most part, Northwestern was better then us,” Peru coach Bob Prescott said. “I thought we made them earn a lot of them points, but I like the way the kids hung in there, and found a way to get points back on the board. It was a testament to our growth. We are in our second year of our weight training.”
Steven McBride led Peru (4-4, 2-4 MIC) with nine carries for 25 yards and one touchdown. QB Nolan Brimbury was 4 of 10 for 179 yards with one interception.
Peru hosts MIC power Hamilton Heights this week. Peru will open Class 3A Sectional 26 play at home Oct. 25 against Rochester.
— Kenny Hetzler
TIPP. VALLEY 35, NORTH MIAMI 14
North Miami dropped to 1-7 overall and 1-5 in the Three Rivers Conference with the loss.
North Miami closes the regular season this week with a trip to Rochester. The Warriors will open Class A Sectional 43 play on the road against South Adams.