Panthers win one for coach, 14-6
Corydon Central’s season-opening loss to Perry Central two weeks ago brought on more than a few grumbles from several fair-weather fans. To listen to the reviews, a bystander would have thought the end was nigh and the Panthers were about to sink back to the days of 0-10 seasons.
First-year head coach Jason Timberlake was in the dumps and had even questioned himself and the job he was doing.
‘I didn’t think I could be any lower,’ Timberlake said.
That was, before he got a call Saturday from Illinois.
Yeronimo Ciriaco, a longtime college buddy of Timberlake’s from Indiana University, had just been killed in an automobile accident. The two played together during Timberlake’s first year at I.U.
Ciriaco had just been hired as the strength and conditioning coach at the University of Illinois football team. He had also worked at I.U. and the Indianapolis Colts.
‘This has been a really rough week for me, and it had nothing to do with football,’ Corydon’s first-year coach said, with several pauses between words to catch his composure. ‘One of my best friends in college was killed … in a car wreck, and it really put last week’s loss and life in general in perspective.
‘I told the players the situation on Monday and told them we had to dwell on the things we had done right (against Perry). After what happened last weekend, I realized that we really didn’t have big problems. We used that as our motivation coming into this week in practice.
‘The seniors really helped me through this week. This win tonight makes things a little better.’
The win Timberlake referred to was a 14-6 nail-biter over Clarksville that wasn’t decided until the final two minutes.
Corydon (1-1, 1-0 Mid-Southern Conference) jumped ahead of the visitors on the first play of the second quarter. David Terhune, a senior who was an in-game, backfield fill-in for Aaron Motsinger, dove in from five yards out. Chad Salomon provided the extra point kick for a 7-0 lead.
‘Aaron was cramping up a little bit, so we put David in there,’ Timberlake said. ‘We didn’t miss a beat. David’s a hard-nosed guy who will do anything we ask of him, and he knew the offense. He’s never asked to come out of the game. He’s a low-key type of guy, but he gets after it on every play.’
Clarksville (0-2, 0-1) answered with 35.5 seconds remaining in the second period.
A 38-yard pass from speedy quarterback Ryan Masters to Drew Curry, combined with a face-mask penalty at the end of the play, put the ball at Corydon’s 10. Two plays later, Kent Lewellen dashed around left end for the score.
Clarksville went for a two-point conversion, but the pass from Masters skipped off the grass and into the hands of the diving receiver.
The two clubs entered the intermission with Corydon leading, 7-6.
A defensive battle kept both offenses at bay in the second half.
After the Panthers’ fifth punt, Clarksville took over at the Panthers’ 10 with just over two minutes left.
A false-start moved the visitors back to the five, but a 15-yard penalty on the Panthers gave the Generals a fresh set of downs.
On first-and-10 at the 26, Masters looked to pass and was hit hard by Terhune as he let the pigskin fly.
The ball fluttered through the air like a wounded duck and was pulled down by Motsinger, who had already smothered two fumbles by the Generals. The stocky fullback scooted toward the end zone, escaping the grasp of a Clarksville player just a few yards from the goal line.
He hit pay dirt from 29 yards out with 1:33 left.
The interception return was the first by Corydon since 1998, when Joey McCarty returned a pick for 26 yards against North Harrison.
The last score by Corydon’s defense came in 2002 at Charlestown, when Justin Smith fell on a fumble in the end zone.
The Generals tried to pass on their next four downs, but all four efforts were incomplete.
Corydon took a knee to kill the final minute and sealed the win.
‘I thought defensively we played a heck of a ball game. They got a lot of yards from three plays and that was it. They had a couple of long passes and a long run, and everything else we shut down,’ Timberlake said.
Corydon rushed for 160 yards and threw for nine more. Clarksville churned out just 67 yards of rushing, throwing for 77.
Kyle White led the Panthers’ ground attack with 55 yards. Terhune rushed for 44.
The Generals were their own worst enemy when it came to penalties. Clarksville gained just five first downs and was flagged 10 times for 65 yards. Corydon was hit with eight infractions for 60 yards and gained nine first downs.
‘It scared our seniors last week to know that they could be beat,’ Timberlake said. ‘They came into practice on Monday scared to death. They took some leadership and came together as a team. Wednesday and Thursday were two great days of practice for us.’
This Friday the Panthers hit the road for the first time this season. They’ll travel to conference-foe Salem (1-1, 0-0), which is still smarting from a mild upset at the hands of county rival West Washington, 30-22.
Corydon saw its 2003 season crash to an end against Salem in the opening round of the playoffs last year, 16-0. It was the only time the Panthers had been blanked all season.
The last time the same two teams matched up in Washington County, Corydon won in two overtimes, 42-34.
To make matters even more interesting, it’ll be a ‘Matchup of the Motsingers’ as Corydon’s gritty running back and linebacker, Aaron Motsinger, faces his former teammates plus his uncle, Lions coach Brian Motsinger.
‘Salem will be a tough team. They always are,’ Timberlake said. ‘The fact that Aaron transferred down here from up there has been talked about. I know his old teammates probably want a shot at him, and I know he really wants to beat them, too.’
The game is set to kick off at 8 p.m. (fast time).