Bruising game goes way of Rams on homecoming, 34-14
The bumps and bruises are adding up for the Panthers.
Coming into the season, depth was a concern for the coaching staff, and that concern hit home Friday. Undefeated, Class 2A No. 3 Paoli rolled into Corydon, having given up one touchdown in six games.
For a half, the Panthers stayed even with the Rams, holding a 14-all tie in the second quarter. Yet, a Paoli touchdown on a 41-second drive, along with key injuries to the Panthers to end the first half, helped vault the Rams to a 34-14 victory on the Panthers’ homecoming night.
‘We’re banged up more now than we were coming into this game,’ Corydon Central coach Darin Ward said. ‘We miss two defensive tackles and an offensive lineman before the game, and we lost a few more guys tonight.’
The Panthers lost starting safety Garett Ross in the first quarter and injuries sidelined several others, including Jeffery Durham, Jeremiah Windell and Dylan Harl, in the second half.
‘We have a few guys that should come back next week,’ Ward said. ‘The team doctor seems to think some of these injuries tonight are not that bad.’
Paoli struck first with an 11-yard score from quarterback Logan Laswell on the team’s second drive.
Corydon Central responded with a 68-yard drive that resulted in the first points scored against the Rams by an offensive player (North Harrison scored the lone previous touchdown against Paoli on special teams). A 10-yard run by Tyler Jones and a 10-yard pass from Dylan Harl to Brandon Dunaway highlighted the drive. A pass interference call against the Rams marched the ball to the 13-yard line. From there, Seth Rennirt scored on a run to the left, diving to the pylon.
The Corydon Central defense stood tall on Paoli’s next drive, forcing a punt. The punt attempt was blocked by Jonathan Brann, prompting solid Panther field position near midfield. With the momentum, the Panthers later scored on a 7-yard run by Lucas Windell. The score gave the Panthers a 14-7 advantage.
‘We could run double tight and get in our bone set,’ Ward said of the running game success. ‘We brought it backside on some action and ran some counter action. It was a good game plan, and we successfully got what we needed.’
Paoli answered with big plays on crucial downs on its next drive. The team converted a short fourth down and lengthy third down conversion, setting up a 2-yard touchdown run from Tyler Dillard.
Corydon Central then went three-and-out on its next drive, punting with 1:14 to play in the half. The Dunaway punt pushed Paoli to its own 41, but the Rams found a way to move the ball quickly down field.
Laswell highlighted the drive with a 24-yard run and an 8-yard pass. The quarterback completed the drive by finding Thomas Springer on a fade route to the end zone with one second on the clock for a 22-14 lead at the half.
‘We came out in the first half and played well offensively. We wanted to run the football and have success with it,’ Ward said. ‘We gave up that cheap score just before the end of the half and that shifted the momentum way into their direction.’
The momentum the Rams built to end the half carried over to the second half, leading to two additional scores. Garrett Shepard scored on a 13-yard run in the third quarter and Dillard on a 4-yard run with 7:12 left in the game.
‘They have a good experienced team over there, and they run their offense very well, and, to go with it, they are sound defensively,’ Ward said of the Rams.
For Corydon Central (4-3), Rennirt led the rushing attack with 44 yards on 10 carries. Lucas Windell picked up 40 yards on 12 attempts.
In the passing attack, Harl completed 8 of 17 passes for 65 yards. Dunaway, who is currently riding a 16-game streak of catching at least one pass, a school record, caught four balls for 49 yards.
Tyler Jones led the banged-up defense with 15 tackles, followed by Dunaway with 10.
Laswell was the star for the Rams (7-0), completing 7 of 13 passes for 105 yards and rushing for 105.
Up next for the Panthers is the final home and Mid-Southern Conference game of the season when they host Salem (4-3, 3-2 MSC) Friday at 7 p.m. A win for Corydon Central would secure second place in the MSC.
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