WALTON — Lewis Cass’ bid for a third consecutive Mid-Indiana Conference football championship hit a roadblock Friday at Owens Memorial Field.

A familiar roadblock.

Hamilton Heights shook off early game miscues to secure a 37-14 victory and assume the front-runner tag in the MIC. It’s a position the winner of this game is used to.

For the past four seasons, whoever came out on top when the Kings and the Huskies hooked up has gone on to claim the conference title.

Cass had won three of those games, with Heights winning in 2004. The Kings’ last MIC loss was to the Huskies that year — they had a 20-game league winning streak coming into Friday.

“We’ve still got some tough teams to play, but the last four years the winner of this game has gone on to win the conference, and the last two years it hadn’t been us,” Heights co-coach Gene Starrett said. “Winning the conference championship has been one of our goals since the offseason.”

Heights improved to 2-2 overall and 2-0 in league play. Cass dropped to 2-2 and 1-1.

The Kings struggled on offense all night. They finished the game with 131 yards on the ground and in the air, which included only two pass completions.

“Against a team like Heights, we’ve got to be able to answer offensively,” said coach Scott Mannering. “I’m not faulting our players’ effort — [but] I’m really disappointed with the way we played. I thought we’d play better for four quarters.

“[The Huskies] are a good football team and took it to us [in the second half] and we didn’t have an answer.”

Cass seized momentum early when 6-foot-5, 309-pound lineman Kitt O’Brien scooped up a Chad Sherer fumble and rambled 29 yards to the Heights 4-yard line.

Two plays later Rory Mannering snuck in from the 1 and the Kings owned a quick 7-0 lead with little more than two minutes elapsed.

Sherer later fumbled again, with the ball recovered by teammate Tyler Provence. That drive, however, stalled at the Cass 35-yard line.

But the Huskies righted themselves in the second quarter, led by Sherer and quarterback Caleb Small.

With the Cass defense controlling the line of scrimmage, Small took to the air and found Sherer across the middle of the field for a completion around the Kings’ 45.

From there, Sherer shook off one would-be tackler and outran the defense to the end zone for a 67-yard TD catch, tying the score at 7-all.

When Cass turned the ball over on downs on its next possession at the Heights 26-yard line, the Huskies went on a 13-play, 74-yard march capped by Sherer’s 2-yard touchdown run. That score gave Heights a 14-7 halftime lead.

The drive featured a 13-yard toss from Small to Zack Carlson on third-and-eight, a 17-yard completion to Jake Henderson to the Cass 18-yard line and a 14-yarder to Henderson on third and 10 that gave the Huskies first and goal from the 4-yard line.

“We prepared for [Cass’] cover-3 all week and they really didn’t have an answer for what we brought ’em,” said Henderson, who finished the contest with 10 catches for 127 yards.

Small finished the first half 11 of 17 passing for 180 yards. Henderson had seven catches for 81 yards and Sherer hauled in three passes for 86 yards and the one TD reception.

The Huskies needed every bit of it. Their run game was held to just 21 yards on 16 attempts.

“Being able to throw the football in the first half was key,” said Starrett. “We couldn’t get a running game established and we were able to overcome that and get rolling.”

A two-hour delay at halftime due to rain and lightning in the area did little to dampen Heights’ momentum.

The defense that held the Kings to only 60 yards of offense in the first half produced a takeaway on Cass’ first play from scrimmage when Henderson slid in front of a Mannering pass at the Kings 29-yard line.

Six plays later, Sherer went in from the 1 and the Huskies led 21-7.

Henderson said he was surprised to see the Kings throw on first down.

“That was very big,” he said. “It took away all their momentum. They shut up after that.

“That actually wasn’t where I was supposed to be, but I was in the right place at the right time.”

Sherer later broke off a 49-yard run that resulted in a 25-yard field goal by John Hird and a 24-7 bulge.

And then it got ugly in the fourth quarter.

A bad snap on a Cass punt landed the Huskies at the Kings 22-yard line. Sherer scored his fourth touchdown of the night on a 1-yard run two plays later.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Kings fumbled the ball away with Heights recovering, again at the Cass 22. Small snuck in from the 1 after he completed a 26-yard pass to Henderson on third and 15.

Cass scored on a 35-yard run by Gordon Riley with 3:53 left to play, but by then it was much too little too late.

After being held to only 16 yards rushing in the first half, Sherer exploded for 115 in the second half and a game-high of 131 yards on 25 attempts.

Sherer, a four-year member of the Huskies, knows firsthand the importance of this game.

“It means a lot [to win]” said the Indiana University recruit. “They’ve beaten us the last couple years, so it’s good to get it back.

“I had a tough time running the ball in the first half but Caleb did a good job throwing it, our offensive line worked things out at halftime and got a good push in the second half.”

Small had a career-best 223 yards on 15 of 23 passing.

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