SHERIDAN — It happened, stunning perhaps to those who didn’t witness it and wouldn’t believe it. But miracles are for those who believe and will not bend or surrender to the odds or those who refuse to bow to any and all.
That was precisely the case here Friday night when a gutsy, stubborn and supremely confident band of Tri-Central Trojans thumbed their noses at history and seven-time state champion Sheridan with a 33-27 victory. It was the first TC triumph over the Blackhawks in 20 seasons, and its eighth straight success also gave the Trojans their first-ever Hoosier Heartland Conference championship.
Coach George Gilbert’s Trojans, now 8-1 whipped the Hawks of coach Bud Wright in every phase of the game.
They finished with a 20-11 superiority in first downs; outgained them via the rush, 207-172, and also the passing game, 99 yards to 23. The Trojans had four fumbles and lost two and had 65 yards in penalties.
But on this Blue & Gold history-making occasion, the Trojans weren’t about to let fumbled snaps and overzealousness interfere with a goal they had set way back in August. The Trojans ran for three touchdowns and passed for two others. The Hawks, meanwhile, had to settle for three scores via the run and one with :57.9 left in the contest when Austin Hoover snatched the ball out of Garrett Kelley’s mitts after a seven-yard gain and raced 36 yards for a TD that closed the score to that final 33-27 count, giving diehard Hawk fans one last gasp of a hope.
The ensuing onside kick was grabbed by TC’s Josh Murdock on the fly who immediately took to the turf. All that remained was for quarterback Cody Howell to kneel twice and let the clock take its last breath.
“This was a very big win and the kids just rose to the occasion,” Gilbert said. “But we practiced hard all week, and our main emphasis was fly around and get to the ball.