By Jim McCarter
Anderson outscored Kokomo 13-0 in the fourth quarter to beat the Wildkats 41-33 in a North Central Conference football game Friday night at Walter Cross Field.
The Wildkats closed the regular season 6-3 overall and dropped to 5-2 in NCC play for a share of second place after an amazing run of five consecutive seasons at 7-0 in conference play. The Richmond Red Devils ran the NCC table this season for their first conference title since 2001.
Anderson’s victory was its first over Kokomo since 2004, ending a seven-year losing streak to the Wildkats. The Indians celebrated big time after their win.
“There’s no doubt we play with a target on our backs every week and that’s not going to change,” Kokomo coach Brett Colby said. “Give [Anderson] credit. They simply beat us up front the last series.”
Anderson (4-3 NCC) took a 34-33 lead with 7:37 left in the game when Chris Lemon made a nice adjustment on a pass from Curtis Wilson for a 31-yard touchdown catch. The Indians went for two, but Kokomo’s defense held, giving the Kats’ offense a chance to pull out the win.
But Anderson’s defense denied the Kats, even after a roughing the kicker penalty gave Kokomo a second chance with a first down on their 49. Four plays later, Kokomo gave the ball back to Anderson on the Indians’ 47.
Five plays later Jerian Beard broke through Kokomo’s defensive line and sprinted 37 yards for a touchdown. Anderson kicked the PAT to take a 41-33 lead with 1:36 to go.
Anderson’s quick score actually gave Kokomo a chance to send the game into overtime with a touchdown and two-point conversion. But the Indians’ defense secured the victory.
“Kokomo is a good football team,” Anderson coach Randy Albano said. “I thought we would just run out the clock, then Jerian scored the touchdown giving Kokomo another chance. It’s hard to tell a kid not to score. This was the best game we’ve played all year. I thought we played really well in the fourth quarter.”
The game was a striking contrast in offensive strategy. Kokomo rushed the ball 49 times for 301 yards, completing six passes for 90 more. The Indians threw the ball 31 times, completing 21 for 263 yards, while rushing for 101.
“This was probably the most complete game Anderson has played this season, “ Colby said. “I also thought they look good last week at Richmond [a 26-22 loss]. They stepped up and made the plays that we usually make.”
Bo Baker led Kokomo with an 18-carry, 158-yard effort that topped his previous career highs of 17 carries and 144 yards, set last week. Baker scored three times, including a 75-yard run from scrimmage to give Kokomo a 33-28 lead with :11 left in the third quarter. Baker’s big run gave Kokomo the lead back just 1:02 after Anderson’s Tylor Peoples scooped up a Kokomo fumble, the only turnover of the game, and returned it 75 yards to put Anderson ahead 28-27.