Corydon shows grit in 35-7 dusting of Pirates
Host Corydon Central closed its second consecutive season at 8-1 Friday night with a sometimes-scintillating, sometimes-dreary 35-7 victory over Mid-Southern Conference foe Charlestown.
The Panthers, ranked No. 8 in the latest Associated Press Class 3A poll, had another strong night of rushing: senior Zac Robson carried the ball 26 times for 155 yards; classmate Corey Thatcher amassed 76 yards on only five carries, and junior Eric Fowler had nine attempts for 36 yards. Freshman quarterback Josh Windell ran twice for a total of 22 yards.
Robson’s effort pushed him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season and give Corydon a rare pair of 1,000-yard rushers. Corydon is the only squad in the state to accomplish the feat thus far this year.
In all, Corydon pounded out 295 yards on the ground and completed three passes for 54 yards.
But the effort came at a price: Thatcher and Robson were both injured and their status for Friday’s sectional opener here is ‘probable,’ but perhaps not 100 percent. Thatcher had a twinge in the hip area while Robson took a helmet to the back of his right hand.
‘Thatcher is a flexor type of thing. I think he’ll be fine. It’s just a matter of stretching him out a little bit better,’ Corydon coach Darin Ward said.
‘Zac’s was a hand injury. We were ready to start yanking some of those guys once we got another score there in the third quarter anyway. It was nice to see Eric Fowler come in and still work with the offensive line and get a nice push and put the ball in the end zone as well.’
Charlestown used about every trick in the book, including running a bizarre formation dubbed ‘The Hawk’ (as in Dennis Hawkins, Clarksville’s coach who came up with the lineup) and running fake punts to try and solve Corydon’s miserly defense. The only chink the Pirates found in the armor came via the flares towards the sidelines. The visitors passed the ball 26 times and completed 12 for 201 yards.
‘Doing things like (trick plays) is a sign of a team that is struggling. Trick plays, fake punts, what do you have to lose? What do we have to lose?’ Charlestown’s skipper, John Mastin, asked. ‘They really came after us. Blitzing linebackers killed us. Our passing looks good at times, like in the first half, and then they make their adjustments and the second half was just incomplete. They just take it away from us.
‘Their defensive adjustments just didn’t allow us to do what we needed to do.’
The Panthers wasted no time getting on the board. An eight-yard run by Robson set up a 56-yard romp around left end by Thatcher on the game’s second play from scrimmage.
After Charlestown (3-6, 2-3 M.S.C.) turned the ball over on downs, Corydon (8-1, 4-1) got the ball at the Pirates’ 39 and scored in nine plays: Windell hit tight end Eric Haub from five yards out, and Brent Salomon added the second of five PAT kicks.
Already up 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, Corydon padded its lead with a 32-yard TD run by Robson.
Three plays later, Charlestown broke through for its only score as quarterback Tyler Knight found Jake Jenkins streaking down the right sideline for a 47-yard reception and the score.
The game stood at 21-7 at the half.
Neither team got much going in the third period. Corydon scored with 27.4 seconds left on a one-yard dive by Fowler.
Corydon went for an onside kick and freshman Kyle White recovered for the Panthers.
The momentum burst was short-lived, however, after Windell bombed one to Brandon Wood, who took the ball down to the Pirates’ seven. As he hit the ground, the pigskin popped loose and Charlestown recovered.
Panthers senior Eric Hoehn appeared to have Knight dropped for a safety two plays later, but Charlestown was able to push the ball out past the 30 before the drive stalled on downs.
Corydon’s final trek to paydirt came with 6:51 left in the game and from 18 yards out. Windell tossed one high and senior Kyle Savely skied for the catch over two defenders.
The Panthers fooled Charlestown again with another onside kick, and R.J. Wild recovered the ball at Charlestown’s 45.
The play was for naught as Corydon wound up kicking the ball away.
Corydon was just 3-13 on third downs, but converted on all four fourth-down tries. Charlestown was 3-6 on third-downs in the first half, but dropped to 2-6 in the second half. The Pirates gambled on fourth down four times and fell short on all attempts.
‘We knew going into it that they were probably going to try lots of different formations, and we were prepared for a lot of that. We just moved some people around to get adjusted to it, and it never really hurt us. I think they dinked one pass, but it was never really that effective,’ Ward said of the Pirates’ passing game.
‘It’s tough to come out and beat a football team by throwing it like that when the defense has more speed than you and the defense is better than you up front. It was just a matter of time before we got a little more pressure or got a few more hurries.’
Justin Lynton had a three sacks for Corydon, Casey Tuchscherer had two sacks, David Terhune one, and Richie Snyder had a nice tackle for a loss. Chris Newton had a powerful hit on Knight.
Another defensive highlight came in the second quarter when Robson blocked a field goal attempt and scooted 15 yards down field.
Jenkins caught five passes for Charlestown for 104 yards, and Brian Baker hauled in six catches for 96 yards. Knight was sacked five times.
Corydon coughed up the ball five times and lost three fumbles. The Panthers were hit with eight penalties for 55 yards; Charlestown was flagged once for a half-yard.
‘We put the ball on the ground too much tonight,’ said Ward. ‘That’s going to hurt us in the tournament if we continue to do that. The next time we throw four or five turnovers in a game, we’re probably going to lose. That’s what our kids need to realize is how important ball security is.’
Panthers hyped to play Salem in sectional opener
When the 15th-ranked (Class 3A) Salem Lions roll into town Friday night for the first round of the football sectional, one thing will be on the minds of Corydon Central’s squad: stop R.J. Hartsfield.
Hartsfield, a 5-9, 178-pound senior, is coming off an amazing 17-carry, 417-yard rushing game against North Harrison. He ranks fifth in the state in rushing with 1,755 yards and is just 96 yards away from breaking the school record for yards in a season, which he set last year.
The Panthers, pegged as the No. 7 team in the state in Class 3A’s final Associated Press poll, will also try to shore up their pass defense, which has given up over 400 yards the past three games.
Corydon knows all about Hartsfield. In their meeting on Sept. 5, Corydon held Hartsfield to just 53 yards. But it should be noted that Hartsfield was nursing a sore hip and was less than 100 percent.
Friday, Corydon’s outstanding scatback, Corey Thatcher, could be in the same boat.
Thatcher ‘ who leads the Panthers’ ground attack with 1,202 yards and 20 touchdowns ‘ was injured early in last week’s win over Charlestown but is listed as probable for the sectional opener.
Corydon’s other star back, Zac Robson, was also injured in the Charlestown game after taking a helmet to the back of his right hand. However, Robson, who went over the 1,000-yard mark (1,146) with his 155-yard effort last time out, should be near-perfect health by kick-off time.
The Panthers got a much-needed lift off the bench from reserve back Eric Fowler, who nimbly rushed for 36 yards and a score in the win over the Pirates.
Corydon head coach Darin Ward said his team was already looking forward to Salem even before the final regular-season game has been played.
‘The last regular season game is tough to play because you’ve already got the sectional draw, and you can’t get those kids thinking about the next week’s opponent. It’s tough to stay up and stay focused,’ Ward said.
Here’s the schedule for Class 3A Sectional 23 football action: Salem at Corydon Central, 8 p.m.; Batesville at Brown County, 7 p.m.; Edgewood at Greensburg, 7:30 p.m. (North Harrison got a first-round bye and will play on the road versus the winner of the Edgewood-Greensburg game.)
Tickets are $5 and are available at the gate.