Defense does it! Panthers edge Clarksville, 7-6
Ahhhhh … the sweet smell of success.
Like momma’s biscuits on a bright Sunday morning, there’s nothing quite like that scent and there’s no doubt what it is.
Fortified by a defense that held Clarksville to just one score on the night, blessed by blind luck that kept eight fumbles in their possession, and believed in by a coach who expected nothing less than a win, Corydon Central’s football team sniffed out its first victory in 24 tries on Friday night, 7-6.
The Panthers (1-1, 1-0 Mid-Southern Conference) got their lone score on the second play of the second quarter, when 5-6 junior quarterback Justin McPherson zipped a 12-yard pass to 6-4 senior wide receiver Ryan Schilmiller.
Host Clarksville (0-2, 0-1 M.S.C.) rallied to within one when Ben Camilotto broke free for a 27-yard run with 5:40 left, but a sweep on the point-after came up short, sending Panther Nation into a tizzy.
“We’re lucky,” first-year Corydon coach Darin Ward said Monday. “We watched the tape. It could have been a blowout either way. I think there were 14 total fumbles in the game, and eight of them were ours. We were able to scoop ours back and pounce on a few of theirs.”
The Generals blitzed every chance they could to slow Corydon’s running game. The Panthers did likewise, but focused mainly on stopping Clarksville’s option.
“We knew how they were going to block and sent our guys right at their weak spot. Our ends hit their quarterback every chance they could, and I think he got outside of them maybe one time, but we popped him a couple of times and forced a couple of fumbles on him,” Ward said.
With the shallow, 7-0 lead, Corydon’s coach said he was faced with a dilemma.
“I was stuck in a double-edged situation because I really wanted the clock to run, but at the same time, we needed to pass the ball to get it down the field. Sometimes when you don’t want to throw it, that’s what you are faced with, and you have to just hope everything comes together at the right time and complete the passes and not throw interceptions. Fortunately for us, we threw it twice and got two first downs late in the game,” he said.
The Panthers will open their home campaign Friday with a conference matchup against Salem, which is coming off a one-point win over archrival West Washington. Kick-off is at 8.
“West Washington pretty much controlled the first half, but Salem came back with a safety and a touchdown in the second half, and it was lights out. They are a really well-coached team, and they’ve got some nice young kids,” Ward said.
“I look for Friday night to be more of a defensive game. I don’t see a whole lot of points being put on the board, so it’s probably going to come down to who makes the fewest mistakes.”
Can Corydon make it two in a row?
“Our quarterback is improving, our receivers are getting more confidence. (Jason) Thomas and (Josh) Spencer are improving. On top of that, we had a lot of sophomores and juniors come into the game on Friday that were fresh off the bench, and as a coach you like to see that, when kids step up. Give (assistant coaches) Dale Dougherty and Bill Baelz credit for the changes they were able to make on the fly like that,” Ward said.
“We’ll need those kinds of performances again on Friday, and we’ll have to get the offense going. It’s okay to win with your defense, but at some time you have to put more points on the board.”
JV nipped, 24-20, by Brownstown
Corydon Central’s junior varsity squad fell just five yards short of a mild upset on Monday night as the seconds were edged out by Brownstown, 24-20.
Two linemen, Eric Hoehn and Jesse Crawford, were injured early on in the game, forcing coach Kerry Zimmerman to switch his lineup. Hoehn broke his hand and Crawford, the center, had a separated shoulder. Zimmerman called upon the services of Miles Mathews, a transfer from Florida, for snapper.
Things slowing got better for Corydon.
After trailing 24-6 on a reverse, 13-yard pass from Chris Paulley to Ralph Weaver, the Panthers mounted a huge rally in the second half: Will Highkemper had a three-yard scamper that was followed by a two-point PAT from Alex Zimmerman to David Terhune and Corey Thatcher scored from 45-yards out.
Corydon was able to come up with a possession in the final minutes and, using the same play in a two-minute offense, drove down deep into Braves territory. With 5.1 seconds left, Zimmerman attempted a pass to Eric Haub, but came up short, stopping the clock with .2 showing. He tried again on the next play and this time Haub came down with the ball but was pulled down by two Brownstown defenders just short of the goal line.
The Panthers (1-1) were 14 for 21 for 149 yards passing and had 19 carries for 161 yards. Leading the way were Thatcher with 13 carries for 153 yards and Haub with six catches and 79 yards. Terhune had 17 tackles for the game and Justin Lynton had 10 tackles.
Corydon takes on host West Washington in two weeks.