After remaining in control of Friday night’s Mid-Indiana Conference football clash with Western for three quarters, Maconaquah began to see its hopes slipping away in the final minute.
Leading 21-18, the visiting Braves were stacked up deep in their own end as Western faced a third-and-goal from the one-yard line. A false start penalty on the Panthers, their 10th penalty of the night, moved the Panthers back.From the six-yard line, Western tailback Ryan Alexander took a handoff up the middle and seemed all but in the end zone when the ball popped up in the air. Maconaquah safety K.J. Walton stabbed the ball out of the air and raced 101 yards for a touchdown up the home sideline with 30 seconds left, sealing the Braves’ 28-18 victory in a fitting cap to a whirlwind fourth quarter.
“All I was thinking was, ‘Please, no one get a penalty or anything,’” Walton said of the return TD. “‘Please just let me score this so we can win this game and move forward. If I score this, we win this game and beat this team. A team that we haven’t beaten in 10 years.’”
Maconaquah last defeated Western in 2004. The Braves had dropped 10 straight in the series, including a pair of losses in tournament play. It was the type of victory for which coach Mark Hartman had been patiently waiting.
“It’s a turning point in our program … something we’ve been looking for,” Hartman said. “We’ve been wanting to make sure we just changed the culture of our school, our program. We’re slowly doing that. All the hard work, the weights, the study tables — all the things we’ve wanted to do all along. We accomplished something [Friday] night.”
Brave junior tailback Cody Hicks was the star in the win, rushing for 260 yards and three TDs on 31 carries. The play he fixated on, though, was his lone fumble of the night.
With 5:00 to play and his team leading 14-12, Hicks tried to take a pitch from quarterback Kyle Dinn, but the connection never happened. Western’s Drew Bellus recovered the ball at the Maconaquah 36, and on the Panthers’ next play from scrimmage, Bellus hit Alexander on a seam route for a 36-yard TD strike to give Western its first lead of night night, 18-14, with 4:26 to play. A pass play was completed, but failed to reach paydirt on the two-point conversion attempt.
Two plays from scrimmage later, Hicks found redemption. He took a carry up the middle, knifed through the secondary and raced 72 yards for a TD to put Maconaquah up for good with 3:46 to play.
“It was amazing,” Hicks said. “I didn’t think we were going to win at first. When I fumbled the ball, it just went all downhill from there. I just kept pushing myself. K.J., Trevor Hagan and all the other seniors just kept telling me to keep pushing through. They called my number and I went all out for those guys. This means a lot. We haven’t beaten them in 10 years, so this is a big momentum shifter for us.”
Hicks scored a pair of TDs in the first half to help the Braves (3-2, 2-1 MIC) take a 14-3 lead into halftime.
The Panthers tacked on a field goal, Zac Simpson’s second of the night, to pull within 14-6 heading into the fourth quarter.
Alexander capped a 73-yard drive with a 25-yard TD run to pull Western within 14-12 with 7:22 to play after a run attempt failed on the two-point conversion try.
In all, Western (4-1, 2-1 MIC) was whistled for 75 yards in penalties.
Maconaquah visits Northwestern this week.
CASS 46, PERU 7
Faced with a soggy field, drizzle which turned to heavy rain and a pesky opponent, Lewis Cass' football team went back to basics Friday night. The result was the Kings found their stride in the second quarter and surged to a 46-7 victory over previously unbeaten Peru."Obviously, the field conditions weren't great, it was kind of drizzly to start the game out," Cass coach Scott Mannering said. "[I] didn't think you could throw the ball well and we were able to move it on the ground so we stayed really basic and that worked. Sometimes you spend all week trying to out-think yourself and the stuff you did in June, or the stuff they've been doing since seventh and eight grade is still good. That was key."Cass racked up 450 yards on the ground with Brendan McGehee running for 131 and Payton Young adding 105 as the Kings moved to 2-3 overall, 1-2 in the Mid-Indiana Conference."I thought our offensive line and halfbacks really blocked well," Mannering said. "They were outstanding on both sides. They were physical, had good pad level all night, made a lot of holes for running backs."Cass got another 79 yards out of Gabe Welch, 45 from Leland Bowling and 36 from James Champ.The rain hit hard in the second quarter and so did the Kings. Cass led 7-0 after the first quarter on a two-yard touchdown run by Welch to finish an 11-play drive, but the Bengal Tigers had a little life after stopping Cass once and showing a dangerous speed element on offense before stalling out with a sack on their first possession. Cass unloaded in the second quarter, scoring three times. Quarterback Owen Ohman scored on a one-yard sneak, Young punched a hole at the line of scrimmage and and surged 57 yards for a TD, and finally near the end of the half John Hartley pounced on a fumble in the end zone on a Peru punt attempt. That made the score 27-0 Cass at the half."They were in the defense we thought they'd be in, and to be honest, they just beat us on both sides of the ball with their physicality and their aggressiveness. All the credit goes to them," Peru coach Bob Prescott said. "We held them on their first drive. I think we got a first down or maybe two and then didn't execute some things, but that's credit to them."I thought it was a decent quarter for us, I think it was 7-0 at the quarter, and then our second quarter they got on top and got it rolling and the rain was coming down like crazy and they got a lot of momentum going and they took it to us."Peru (4-1, 2-1 MIC) scored on its first possession of the third quarter on a six-yard fake and keep by quarterback Nolan Brimbury for its only score. "We asked our kids to make sure that half didn't defnie who we are and I was very proud that we came out in the third quarter and got a drive put together and put points on the board," Prescott said. "But by far the better team won."Brimbury ran for 30 yards and connected on five passes for 51 yards. Michael Richardson added 41 yards on the ground.
Peru hosts Western this week.
MANCHESTER 35, NORTH MIAMI 0
The Warriors dropped to 1-4 overall and 1-2 in the Three Rivers Conference with the loss to the previously winless Squires.
North Miami hosts Southwood this week.