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Corydon gives fans, Salem heart attack

Corydon gives fans, Salem heart attack
Corydon gives fans, Salem heart attack
Three Justins -- junior Justin Lynton (34) and seniors Justin McPherson (16) and Justin Albin (75) -- and freshman Shaun Walker are on edge as they watch the final play of double-overtime against Salem on Friday night. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

The athletic department at Salem High School should have charged a fee to leave Paul Graves Stadium following Friday night’s Mid-Southern Conference football cliff-hanger.
Heart-broken Salem fans couldn’t wait to get out of the vicinity of the tell-tale scoreboard while Corydon Central backers couldn’t wait to get home and call their friends: Color this one in favor of the “Gold and Black Heart Attack” known as the Panthers, 42-34, in double overtime.
“It’s got to be the most exciting game I’ve been a part of in several years,” Panthers coach Darin Ward said.
“I thought we were going to lose it the way we came out in the second half. We had two offensive tackles injured, a center that had a bum shoulder, and our tight end went out a couple of times. The kids just never gave up and put themselves in position to go into overtime.”
The Panthers’ 3-0 start equals the effort of the 1968 Corydon team that wound up 7-2 on the season. The gang that halted that streak was Brownstown, which happens to be the club Corydon will face Friday at 8 p.m.
With both teams being undefeated, the winner will be in the driver’s seat for the Mid-Southern Conference title. In addition to that jewel, both teams are ranked by the Indiana Football Coaches Association poll: Brownstown is No. 5 in Class 2A while Corydon Central climbed from 16th last week to 13th this week. A win by either club would likely see another bump up in the polls.
“We don’t have anything to lose going up there. I think our kids like this hostile atmosphere, whether it’s the fans, the officials or the other team or whatever. It’s great to go play on the road. We had a great crowd tonight,” Ward said.
“We just need to get healthy. We’re beat up right now. Justin Albin is limping around, Chris Newton is hurt, Aaron Daugherty is hurt. We’ll need a magic doctor come in this week and get our health back and get our feet back underneath us.”
The Panther faithful stood up and sat down more times than at a Southern Baptist church service.
After a scoreless first period that saw Corydon (3-0, 2-0 Mid-Southern Conference) hold the ball for all but four plays (including drives of nine and 10 plays), the Panthers hit paydirt on a one-yard dive by senior quarterback Justin McPherson. His point-after kick was good for the 7-0 lead.
Three plays later, Salem got on the board when R.J. Hartsfield ran left, cut back right and was off on a 45-yard jaunt to the end zone. The kick try failed, however, to keep Corydon ahead.
The visitors pushed the lead to 14-6 on a nine-play, 56-yard drive highlighted by a key pass reception by Nevin Dunaway and a two-yard plunge by Corey Thatcher. Salem tied it after another long run by Hartsfield and a TD dive by Aaron Motsinger. The Lions (2-1, 1-1 M.S.C.) knotted it with a zig-zag, PAT run by Hartsfield.
The score wasn’t tied for long, however, as Thatcher, a quick-footed junior, returned the kickoff 92 yards.
Salem reset the tie on the post-halftime kickoff with Hartsfield carding an 80-yard return, and then took the lead on a 20-yard, cutback play with 8:30 remaining in the third.
After trading possessions twice to start the fourth quarter, Corydon scored in the final minute of regulation on four straight pass plays. Aaron Dougherty pulled in the first two, and one was intended for Steven Walker, but Salem was flagged for a pass interference penalty to spot the ball at the 17. McPherson floated one to Dunaway on the left side to knot the game at 26-all. His kick, however, zipped underneath the crossbar.
Salem scored first in the initial overtime, with Hartsfield punching one in from one yard out. Motsinger added the two-point conversion to put the pressure on Corydon.
“I let the kids make that call. I asked the kids if they thought they could get it, and they said, ‘Yes.’ We had two PATs blocked and really hadn’t had that done to us all year,” Salem coach Brian Motsinger said. “It wasn’t a hard decision at all.”
On the Panthers’ first play in OT, McPherson found sophomore Eric Haub in the back of the end zone. Haub bobbled the ball twice but finally pulled it down for the score. McPherson hit Haub again on the point-after. The receiver made a miraculous move to stay inbounds and had the presence of mind to step in the end zone to keep Corydon’s hope alive.
Jon Windell came to the rescue for the Panthers in the second overtime, chugging for a 7-yard score and the eventual game-winner. McPherson zipped a pass to Dunaway to set the score at 42-34.
After Hartsfield was brought down by a super tackle by Casey Tuchscherer on Salem’s first try, Haub tackled Motsinger for no gain on second down. Lions quarterback Ben Motsinger brought the ball to the Panthers’ 3-yard line on third down to set up the final play.
Salem went with a call to Aaron Motsinger, who was chased around to the left side and taken down by Jon Windell.
Salem’s coach said the game was well-balanced.
“In the second half, we played a lot better. We switched things up at halftime that really helped us. I don’t know, maybe we should have done it earlier.
“I’ve got no problem with the way my team played. We played hard; Corydon played hard. It was a great game,” Motsinger said. “They had that little throw game that hurt us. They were hitting everybody, it seemed like. Tight end, little flanker, we just didn’t have answer.
“When I was a junior, I played in a five-overtime game in the first year they implemented overtimes. In coaching, I’ve been in nothing like this. It was like a roller coaster. It was a lot of fun.”
Coming into the game, Ward said he had expected a low-scoring affair. With 76 total points scored, that prediction went out the window.
“Salem screwed that up,” Ward joked. “If they wouldn’t have scored, then we wouldn’t have kept scoring. I was kind of shocked. I thought we’d play a little better defensively. That 29, the (R.J.) Hartsfield kid, is a hell of a running back. He’s got great speed, runs hard, a strong kid and runs through stuff. He’s a great football player. We finally halfway contained him in the second half.”
Hartsfield ran for 215 yards, and Motsinger 53. The Lions completed just one pass, for 11 yards, gained 10 first downs, and racked up 45 yards worth of penalties.
The winners had only 148 yards of rushing, led by Thatcher’s 90-yard effort. Windell carried the ball six times for 39 yards. Corydon’s passing game saved the team as McPherson completed 10 of 17 attempts for 109 yards with one interception.
Walker caught one pass for 33 yards, Dunaway two for 31, Windell two for 17, Dougherty two for 14, and Haub one for 10 yards. The Panthers had 14 first downs and were flagged six times for 55 yards.
The 42-point outburst by the Panthers was the most points scored since Oct. 26, 1994, when Corydon out-slugged Charlestown, 55-20.
Cubs dusted by Southridge, Brownstown
Corydon’s JV team fell on hard times in its past two outings, falling by a 43-6 decision to Southridge and a 47-12 loss to Brownstown.
Against the Braves, Corydon’s two scores came on kickoff run-backs of 77 and 78 yards.
In last week’s game against Southridge, Eric Fowler had an 18-yard run for a score and in defensive highlights, Tyler Williams had eight tackles, Jason Ward had nine and Fowler had eight takedowns.