Windell INT seals win
Corydon Central opened the football season Friday, grinding through nicks and injuries in a physical tussle with Class A No. 5 Perry Central.
Even though the visiting Commodores ran nearly twice as many offensive plays as the Panthers, Corydon Central put the stamp on a 26-20 victory with a Lucas Windell interception with 47 seconds remaining.
Trailing 20-19 in the fourth quarter, Corydon Central jumped ahead when sophomore quarterback Chase Burton connected with senior Brandon Dunaway for an 8-yard touchdown pass. It was the third touchdown the duo combined for in the game. This one, however, put Corydon Central up 26-20 after Dunaway split the uprights with the extra point.
The score left 2:44 on the fourth quarter clock for the Commodores. Perry Central quarterback Dee Jay Shaw completed passes to Lucas Bryant, Blaine Wiseman and Marcus Peter, pushing the ball 21 yards from the end zone.
With the game clock trickling inside a minute, Shaw threw three incomplete passes, setting up a fourth-and-10 play. The final play was a pass attempt to Ethan Wheatley over the middle. Reading the pass, Corydon Central junior linebacker Windell made an acrobatic interception, sealing the Panthers’ first win over Perry Central in six seasons.
‘It was a tough, physical game, and it was a different atmosphere out there,’ Windell said. ‘You have what feels like a thousand people yelling and screaming, and we face a fourth down to hold them. We buckled up, believed in each other and got it done.’
The first quarter was mostly a struggle around midfield until Perry Central put together a 15-play drive into the second quarter. Benefiting from a pass interference call on fourth-and-8 at the 15, Perry Central later scored on a 1-yard run from Mikey Wilkerson.
Corydon Central gained momentum after the Commodores scored. Burton picked up the first Panther first down when he connected with tight end Harrison Rinzel for 10 yards.
A steady diet of runs from Jeremiah and Lucas Windell and Seth Rennirt moved the ball to the red zone. Facing a similar situation as Perry Central, the Panthers needed to convert a fourth down play to score. Burton came up with the play, finding a leaping Dunaway in the back of the end zone for the score.
A failed two-point conversion attempt resulted in Perry Central leading, 7-6, at halftime.
‘We caught some field position in the first half, a half where we only had the ball three times,’ Corydon Central coach Darin Ward said. ‘The first two we couldn’t get any rhythm, then the third we had a nice drive and scored.’
The Panthers also had to deal with injuries in the first half to defensive linemen Dakota Fessel and Jackson Wilkerson. Wilkerson later returned to the game in the second half.
‘All of a sudden we get a knee here, and ankle there, all on top of dealing with cramps,’ Ward said. ‘We knew it would be a physical game. We thought we’d be on the better end of it. Hats off to Perry. They tossed the ball downhill and came after us.’
Corydon Central struck twice in the third quarter, the first on a big play. On the second play from scrimmage, Dunaway was open down field, catching a 48-yard touchdown pass from Burton. The score, less than a minute into the second half, put the Panthers up, 13-7.
‘Coming out in the second half, we had good field position and hit it over the top,’ Ward said. ‘We felt like most teams are going to play Brandon tight, rolling over coverage. We have to get the ball to him, which forces teams to double on him, which they ended up doing. It opens up our running game.’
Perry Central came back with another score, grinding out a 13-play drive, capped by a Shaw-to-Wilkerson 16-yard touchdown pass. The play came on a fourth-and-long situation. A missed extra point left the game tied at 13.
On Corydon Central’s next possession, the Panthers took three plays to score. On the third play, Lucas Windell carried the ball near midfield before he fumbled. In the right place, Rennirt scooped the ball and carried his momentum 50 yards to the end zone.
‘You know what? When you are blocking down field like Seth was, you are going to catch a break like that,’ Ward said. ‘You won’t expect that, but the kid hustled.’
Back on offense, Perry Central took it to the ground again. All 13 plays on the Commodores’ next drive went to Wilkerson. The running back eventually scored from six yards out, giving Perry Central a 20-19 lead.
‘We played 48 minutes, and I bet Perry had the ball 30 to 35 minutes of the game,’ Ward said. ‘When you are on your heels, playing defense ‘ You don’t get tired on offense when you are going good, but on defense, those long drives can hurt. But I reminded our guys to be patient. I had to remind our guys several times we had the lead. We still had time to go in the game when we had to score.’
The Burton-to-Dunaway touchdown sealed the win for the Panthers. Burton, in his first start at quarterback, completed 7 of 10 passes for 101 yards. Dunaway caught five balls for 69 yards. Jeremiah Windell had 15 tackles for the Panthers.
Wilkerson led the Commodore offense with 125 yards rushing on 37 carries.
Corydon Central jumps into Mid-Southern Conference play Friday, hosting rival North Harrison in the Big Cat Classic at 7 p.m.