|Tue, Sep 16, 2014 12:52 AM
|Issue of September 10, 2014
October 10, 2012 | 10:26 AM
Dark clouds loomed to the west behind Salem schools prior to kickoff of Friday night's Mid-Southern Conference game between the Lions and Corydon Central.
The clouds didn't stay to the west long.
They unloaded heavy rains along with a brisk, cold wind that made the football showdown a messy one.
Corydon Central's Chase Burton scored on a 22-yard run with 2.9 seconds left before halftime to give the Panthers a 6-0 lead. Defensively, the Panthers allowed just one Salem first down for the game, leading to a sopping 12-0 victory.
"I don't think this was meant for that," Corydon Central coach Darin Ward said about his drenched rain gear that, frankly, didn't hold up in the downpour.
With a slick football, passing was hard to come by for both teams. Burton, one of the top passers in the state, was limited due to the water heavy football and slick grip.
Instead of using his arm, Burton used his legs, gaining 94 yards on the ground on 21 carries. He also had both Panthers scores.
"Those conditions are miserable, and it was pretty evident midway through the first that throwing the ball was going to be a challenge," Ward said. "Chase was coming off the field saying he just can't get a grip to throw it. He was basically shot putting the ball from the side."
With 4:40 left in the second quarter, Corydon Central started a drive at its own 20 and eventually sloshed its way to a score.
Running back Shane Brown and Burton eventually picked up positive yardage to move to the Corydon Central 40.
Burton then came up with a creative play, using some of his basketball skills behind center. Scrambling to his left, Burton threw a two-handed chest pass to Mitch Akers for a 10-yard pick-up, pressing the ball beyond midfield with two minutes to go.
"That was a heads-up play and a great catch by Akers to pick up a first down. These games are about field position anyway, so every first down was important," Ward said.
Facing a fourth-and-9 with 48 seconds to go near midfield, Ward elected to go for it instead of punting. He said the risk of going for it was better than taking a chance of a botched snap or getting blocked on a punt attempt.
The decision worked, as Burton scrambled and ran for a 28-yard gain to the 19.
Corydon Central lost a combined three yards on the next three plays, setting up another fourth down. From the 22, Burton did it with his legs again. After getting bottled up near the line of scrimmage, he surged forward before taking on a host of Lions head-on near the 5. Burton didn't go down; rather, he spun to his left and waddled his way to the end zone.
"The touchdown was key before the end of the half," Ward said. "On the score, Chase looked stacked at the line, then broke free, then got lit up at the 5. He spun out of it and scored, which was key for us to get points before the half."
Salem nearly pulled off a trick play earlier in the half, but a bat-down by Corydon Central's Mitch Akers denied the Lions. With 6:34 to go before halftime, Salem wide receiver Jarred Blevins attempted a pass after taking a hand-off. His pass attempt down-field to what appeared to be a wide-open target was broken up by Akers, who had time to track down the ball amid the rainstorm.
Akers would later get an interception in the second half.
Defensively, Ward was pleased with the effort of his team holding the Lions to one first down and less than 50 yards of offense.
"It was a great effort from all of our guys," Ward said. "Our defensive line and linebackers played well. Justin Yates, Dylan Jensen, Steven Sallee and Logan Crosier were really active on the line of scrimmage. Mitchel (Holton) did a nice job filling in for McAfee at linebacker, too."
Corydon Central put together a strong drive in the third quarter down to the Salem 6 but eventually turned over the ball.
Salem, however, wasn't able to capitalize. The Lions were never able to advance to midfield for the remainder of the contest.
The Panthers doubled their score in the fourth quarter with another Burton score. Brown had a run of 12 and six yards to move the ball to the 2. Burton closed the drive with a sneak.
Out of the half, Corydon Central went to a two-back set, a different look from earlier games.
"Coming out of last week, we knew we needed to get more physical," Ward said. "Mitchel Holton stepped up at fullback, showing in practice he could come downhill and block. (Running back/linebacker) Alex McAfee being out with mono, Shane Brown had a lot of carries. He stepped up for us tonight."
Brown finished with 93 yards on 27 carries. Burton completed 5 of 15 passing for 38 yards and one interception. Yates led the defense with eight tackles while Jason Wisman, Brayden Lander and Yates had one tackle for loss.
Corydon Central improved to 7-1 heading into the season finale. The Panthers will host MSC rival Brownstown Central (7-1) Friday at 7 p.m.