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No. 2 Perry can’t catch Corydon’s ‘Thatch’

No. 2 Perry can’t catch Corydon’s ‘Thatch’
No. 2 Perry can’t catch Corydon’s ‘Thatch’
Corydon Central junior running back Corey Thatcher (9) looks for an opening around Perry Central senior lineman Matt Etienne during the first half of Friday night's shocking, 20-19 victory for the Panthers. Thatcher rushed for 187 yards and two touchdowns. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

You’ve got to appreciate the bend-but-don’t-break attitude that now permeates the sidelines at Corydon Central to understand why, or even how, the Panthers were able to stun No. 2-ranked (Class A) Perry Central on Friday night, 20-19.
The visiting Commodores exploited Corydon, which only had 10 players on the field in the second quarter,and took a 7-0 lead on a 40-yard scamper by senior Noel Wagner.
No problem. The hosts answered 16 seconds later as Panther junior Corey Thatcher returned the ball 89 yards to tie the game.
After Perry scored on its next possession on a eight-play, 67-yard drive capped by a three-yard plunge by Wagner, Thatcher came to the rescue again by zig-zagging his way 64 yards for the score to knot the game at 13-13.
Perry hit paydirt midway through the third on a one-yard dive by Josh Carter, but the two-point conversion attempt failed, giving the visitors a 19-13 lead. Two minutes later, the Panthers tied it when senior quarterback Justin McPherson connected with Eric Haub on a 7-yard touchdown strike. McPherson added the eventual game-winning PAT to give the hosts their only lead of the game.
The play was even more noteworthy because Corydon’s coaching staff was trying to call a timeout.
“Basically, there was going to be a shift, which you can do all day long, but what we had called would have still had guys in motion,” Panthers skipper Darin Ward said.
“Mickey (Justin McPherson) did the right thing by waiting for everyone to get set. It just worked out great because that was a blown formation. Haub wasn’t even supposed to be there.”
Then Corydon’s defense sparkled, coming up with a huge stop on their own 7-yard line, forcing a punt, and picking off a pass in their own territory with just over three minutes remaining.
It was the Panthers’ first opening game win since 1984.
“I tell you what. There are some guys over there who are beat up,” Ward said of Perry Central. “We’ve got some big, strong guys on both sides of the ball, and I think it was a matter of us wearing them down physically. The key was that when they got their touchdowns, we came back with something quick. When you do that, you tend to forget about the other team scoring.
“In past years, this team might have folded when they gave up a big run or a big pass, like we did a few times tonight. We didn’t do that. We came right back.
“Our game plan tonight was to shorten the game, let the clock run and give ourselves a chance in the fourth quarter. We did all of that, and this one was over in about two hours and we won. It’s that simple.”
Corydon will try to do more of the same Friday at home at 7:30, when it opens the Mid-Southern Conference season with a matchup against Clarksville, which was pasted 57-8 by New Albany its opener. Perry will hope to bounce back at home against the Cougars of North Harrison.
Corydon’s Thatcher had a yeoman’s night, racking up 187 yards on 29 tries with the incredible 89-yard kickoff return.
Jon Windell’s fourth-quarter effort in the backfield was notable as well, gaining 53 yards on six carries, including a 12-yard run in the final minutes that drove the final nail in Perry’s coffin.
Rusty Early had the fourth-quarter pick, and several big tackles were made throughout the night by Windell, Zac Robson (who forced a fumble in the first period), Michael Tuchscherer and Michael Emily.
“Our defense came up big several times when it had to,” Ward said.
Perry had 12 first downs to Corydon’s 11. The Panthers were flagged twice for 25 yards and Perry was hit three times for 25 yards. Corydon rushed for 234 yards and threw for 63, led by Steven Walker’s finger-tip grab from McPherson for 47 yards.
The Commodores, who rushed for a total of 177 yards, were led by Wagner’s 125-yard night. Shon Hubert threw the ball 13 times, blistering Corydon’s secondary seven times for 189 yards.