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Corydon Central defensive back Chris Tucker (31) deflects a pass attempt that eventually bounced off Charlestown receiver Alex Smith's helmet. The ball bounced the direction of Corydon Central's Brayden Lander, who intercepted the pass. Photo by Brian Smith (click for larger version)

Panther 'O' struggles vs. Pirates

October 09, 2013 | 11:06 AM

For the second consecutive week, Corydon Central's offense sputtered.

Despite forcing five turnovers against Charlestown and having 14 offensive possessions, Corydon Central couldn't muster points at Dutch Reis Field.

"We're not playing with the same emotion we were playing with in weeks one, two and three," Corydon Central coach Darin Ward said. "We're kind of flat right now. We have to figure out what we want to do down the stretch. These types of losses are in our future the next couple of weeks if we don't get things fixed."

Blanking the Panthers isn't the lone shutout for Charlestown this season. Of its five victories, four opponents were held scoreless.

While Charlestown's defense took center stage for much of the game, the opening kick-off set the tone in the Mid-Southern Conference battle.

The kick off the boot of Cory Thomas reached the 2-yard line. Eli Daniel ran up a seam on the right side then cut left before reaching midfield. He then sprinted to the goal line before leaping for the end zone as the Panthers tried to catch up.

Fifteen seconds into the game, the Panthers were down 7-0.

Going three-and-out on its first two possessions, another special-teams hiccup proved costly for Corydon Central. Lined up to punt at its own 10, the snap sailed past punter Alex Newton toward the end zone. Scooping up the ball, Newton scrambled right while a host of Pirates pursued him. Able to get off a short kick, a favorable Charlestown bounce saw the pigskin roll back to the 2.

Corydon Central held firm defensively through the first two plays of Charlestown's next drive, stopping runs by Matt Myers and Tristan Chester. On third down, Myers took the ball in, scoring to put the Pirates up 14-0.

"We come out and sputter around," Ward said. "Our punter made a heady play going back and attempting to kick it while running for his life, and they get the ball at the 2. You spot them 14 points that early, we're not that good enough or explosive enough on offense to recover."

Corydon Central had positive field position at times in the opening half to cut into the lead. Lined up to punt in Corydon Central territory, Daniel ran a fake to the right, but it was snuffed out by the Panthers. The play gave Corydon Central the ball at the 31.

Alex McAfee took a handoff on the next play but, after running toward the 20, Charlestown caused a fumble and recovered.

Charlestown fumbled on its next drive, setting Corydon Central up with field position inside the 30. Two plays of negative yards forced Corydon Central into a fourth-and-16 situation, but the hope ended with a Buck incompletion.

In a rather sloppy opening half, Charlestown fumbled again in the second quarter with Corydon Central's Logan Behagg corralling the loose ball.

Set up at the Charlestown 39, the Panthers switched to Brayden Lander at quarterback. A run by the QB and Josh Allen went for negative yards. Taking a shot down the field, Lander's pass was picked off.

It didn't take Lander long to get revenge. Charlestown attempted a pass on first down, but the ball was deflected by Chris Tucker before it hit the helmet of Pirates receiver Alex Smith. After ricocheting off the helmet, Lander flew in to scoop the ball before it hit the ground for an interception.

Late in the first half, Allen and Lander hooked up on a play that fooled the Pirates. Taking a handoff in the backfield from Buck, Allen fired a deep pass to Lander. The play went for 26 yards, the longest gain of the night for Corydon Central.

Putting the ball at the Charlestown 34, Corydon Central was whistled for a hold, then Buck was sacked to push the Panthers way back.

Defensively, Corydon Central kept Charlestown off the scoreboard the rest of the first half.

"I think we settled in defensively and played a good first half," Ward said. "They came out with a different quarterback, and he decided to go run and compete. I don't know if we wanted to."

Charlestown went through two quarterbacks who left with injury before turning to freshman Antonyo Gaddie.

Using speed and quickness, Gaddie rushed for 151 yards without attempting a pass. Gaddie would score three times in the third quarter with runs of 22, 41 and 24 yards.

"The first quarterback got hurt, then the second one was limping around," Ward said. "It's a great adjustment by them. They didn't have much to lose and a 14-0 lead. We hadn't shown we could do anything offensively at all."

Corydon Central tallied 102 yards of offense. The Panthers carried the ball 35 times as a team for 33 yards, led by 20 from McAfee. Buck was 7 of 16 passing for 43 yards.

"We don't have a marquee guy or breakaway guy in the backfield," Ward said. "We don't have a guy that can sling it like we've had the last year or two. We're just really limited, but we need all 11 guys on the same page every snap. We get eight or nine at one time. Seems we'll get a guy falling off a block or missing a cut, but, once you get in second and long and third and long, it's tough to call an offense."

Behagg paced the Panthers defense with 11 tackles, while Travis Phelps had 7-1/2. Nathan Schmitt, Jacob Michel, Behagg and Tucker were credited with fumble recoveries.

Corydon Central (5-2, 4-1) looks to bounce back at home Friday when the Panthers welcome Salem (4-3, 4-2). The Panthers have won five straight against the Lions.

Sitting at the top of the MSC standings is Brownstown Central with a 5-0 league record, while Charlestown is 5-1 and Corydon Central 4-1.

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