Panthers pounce on Charlestown
By shutting down the Charlestown running game, Corydon Central came away with a 22-13 win Friday at Charlestown, putting the Panthers at 5-1, their best start since 2003.
Jordan Crosier’s fumble recovery near midfield on Charlestown’s second play from scrimmage led to Corydon Central’s first touchdown. Facing a fourth-and-six at the Panther 44, Seth Rennirt ran the ball left of the line to the end zone. The touchdown was called back due to a penalty, but the location of the block in the back gave Corydon Central a first down.
Quarterback Chase Burton later connected on a sideline route with Brandon Dunaway for a 21-yard pickup. On the next play, Rennirt scored from five yards out.
Charlestown wasted little time striking back. A big return from the Pirates, along with a penalty on the Panthers, put the ball at Charlestown’s 41. On the first play of the drive, quarterback Aaron Daniel threw a home-run pass to Josh King for a touchdown. The Daniel extra point put Charlestown up, 7-6.
‘First half was interesting with the flags and jawing,’ Corydon Central coach Darin Ward said. ‘We’ve got to play with more composure and just play football. We come out, get a turnover and march it down the field and score. They then hit the bomb over the top. We give them field position, and teams are going to take a shot after a kick return like that or a big penalty.’
Not fooled by a Charlestown onside kick attempt, Corydon Central safely recovered the ball, setting up a 54-yard drive. The Panthers converted another key fourth-down play during the drive, a six-yard screen pass to Jeremiah Windell. Windell finished the series off with an eight-yard run off the right side. Rennirt ran in the two-point conversion, putting the Panthers up 14-7.
Over the remainder of the first half, Corydon Central struggled to get the offense back in gear. The Panthers committed seven penalties in the first half, slowing the momentum of the game.
‘We just lost rhythm,’ Ward said.
Charlestown, keyed by another Daniel-to-King reception, had a positive drive going in the second quarter. The pass covered 44 yards, moving the ball down to the 11. Corydon Central’s defense stood strong, including Crosier sacking Daniel on fourth down.
‘They got us on a deep route, but it was nice for us to get a stop and hold them in the red zone,’ Ward said. ‘Main thing is we teach our kids not to give up and play every down.’
Corydon Central went into halftime with a 14-7 lead.
Punter Brandon Dunaway helped the Panthers avoid a disastrous start to the third quarter. On fourth down, the long snap sailed over Dunaway’s head. Dunaway gathered the loose ball and boomed a punt into Pirate territory.
‘I was thinking, just go get it and punt it, because they didn’t have anybody deep,’ Ward said. ‘Natural tendency for a kid, especially an athlete, is to turn around and run. He was probably 40 yards from a first down but showed really good composure to pick it up and punt the ball.’
Charlestown then moved the ball inside the red zone. Once again, the Panther defense stood strong. At the 15, Justin Yates deflected a Daniel pass attempt on third down. Then, on fourth down, Lucas Windell sacked Daniel on a blitz play, forcing a turnover.
Two pass plays keyed Corydon Central’s next touchdown drive. Dunaway caught one for five yards, and tight end Dylan Jensen had a 14-yard reception. Jeremiah Windell then took a run 44 yards up the middle for a touchdown, bloating the Panther lead to 22-7.
Jensen filled in for Harrison Rinzel, who was scratched from the game with an illness.
‘We started the game off with one of the Windells there, but went to Dylan Jensen, a sophomore with good size,’ Ward said. ‘He had a big catch to keep a drive alive in the third quarter. It set up the long run.’
Charlestown scored in the fourth quarter after Corydon Central had a miscue on their snap count. The fumble occurred at the 8, setting up a two-yard run from Charlestown’s Ethan Bowen. Corydon Central stopped the two-point conversion attempt, keeping it a two-possession game.
Defensively, the Panthers made adjustments in the second half to limit the Pirate passing game.
‘We switched our coverage a little bit,’ Ward said. ‘We moved Dunaway from the free safety spot to cornerback. He’s a pretty good athlete and played more man coverage. (Ryan) Coffman got beat a few times, but he came back and got an interception on a tip ball (in the second half).’
The Panthers ran for 206 yards, led by Jeremiah Windell’s 111 yards on 15 carries. Rennirt finished with 71 yards rushing.
Burton completed eight passes for 103 yards. Dunaway had three catches for 40 yards.
Charlestown was limited to 46 yards rushing on 32 carries. Daniel finished with 14 completions for 165 yards.
Corydon Central travels to undefeated Paoli Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff.