FGs enough to drop Panthers
The fences were lined at the Corydon Central football field Friday night, and the bleachers were near capacity on the home side as the hometown football team embarked on a first-place Mid-Southern Conference dual with Charlestown.
The battle was of the defensive variety, with the lone points coming from the boot of Charlestown kicker Ariel Stephens, who made two field-goal attempts. The Pirates escaped Corydon with a 6-0 victory and the top spot with a few games remaining in MSC play.
‘Effort was good, but we got beat by a better football team tonight,’ Corydon Central coach Darin Ward said. ‘We have to understand we got beat by an older, more physical and stronger football team tonight.’
Visiting Charlestown was in control of the game in the first half. The Pirates ran 34 offensive plays to Corydon Central’s 15. The Panthers gained one first down in the opening half. Despite finding themselves out-gained in the half, the Panthers trailed by just a field goal.
On Charlestown’s second drive, two big plays put the Pirates in scoring position. Josh Graham took a counter for 22 yards, moving the ball into Panther territory. Four plays later, Michael Baines ran the ball 28 yards until he was caught at the 7.
Corydon Central’s defense held strong in the red zone, only allowing a Stephens’ 22-yard field goal.
Later in the second quarter, Corydon Central returned a punt to near midfield. Three plays later, the Panthers faced a fourth-and-one situation and elected to punt. Brandon Dunaway’s kick pinned the Pirates at the 10-yard line.
With three minutes remaining in the half, Charlestown rolled down the field with the running of Graham and Baines. On the seventh play of the drive, Graham broke a few tackles to break free near the 20, but the Panther defense stripped the ball and came out with a turnover.
‘We missed some opportunities in the first half, where it probably could have been a 0-0 game at the half,’ Ward said. ‘Even on a couple of their big plays, busting off for 40-something yards, our guys were busting it to prevent touchdowns and only giving up field goals. You have to commend that effort.’
Corydon Central went to the passing game in the second half. On the opening play, quarterback Dylan Harl found Dunaway for a 15-yard pickup. Two plays later, Harl connected with Garett Ross for a 7-yard gain. Yet, on the next play, Harl was sacked for a big loss, forcing a punt.
Another strong punt put the Pirates back on the 15, but their running game continued to find success. During the drive, Graham had his longest run of the game, a 47-yard scamper, advancing the ball to the 11. The Panther defense stood strong again in the red zone, not allowing a touchdown. The Pirates did come away with a field goal, a 25-yard boot from Stephens.
Corydon Central followed with a solid kickoff return from Michael Beauchamp, putting the ball at the 40. Jeremiah Windell ignited the Panther offense, rushing for 17 yards on three carries.
Later in the drive, facing a fourth-and-11 at the 31, Harl tossed a screen pass to Windell, who broke two tackles to pick up the first down by a yard. The move, however, was spoiled by the Pirate defense, who forced a turnover on downs.
Corydon Central, in turn, came up with a big spot again in the red zone. The Charlestown running game moved the ball down to the 15, but the Panther defense held the Pirates a yard short on a fourth-down attempt. The stop gave the Panther offense one more shot at the end zone with five minutes to go in the game.
‘We talked about these kids, at the beginning of the season, to just have the opportunity to win in the fourth quarter,’ Ward said. ‘Low and behold, we get stopped and we get a couple of nice plays to pick up first downs and we were set up to take some shots at the end zone.’
The big set up was a catch-and-run from Harl to Dunaway, moving the ball near midfield. The duo hooked up again on two more passes, including a crucial fourth-down play, taking the ball to the 22.
An offsides penalty pushed the Panthers back five yards with two minutes remaining. Corydon Central, however, was unable to find the end zone.
‘They (Charlestown) controlled the time of possession and rushed for 250 to 300, but on the lighter side, we gave up two field goals and got a couple of stops on fourth down and was in the ball game until the end. That was all we could ask for,’ Ward said. ‘As long as they were controlling the clock with a lead, they were going to be conservative; they have two good downhill backs coming at us.’
Charlestown finished with 303 total yards and Corydon Central ended with 161.
Corydon Central will face undefeated Paoli next. The Rams are ranked seventh in the state in scoring at 49.7 points per game and second in defense, allowing 1.2 points. Corydon Central’s defense is fifth in the state, allowing five points per game. The game, also homecoming, will kick off at 7 p.m.
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