Sweet revenge for Panthers
Lucas Windell referred to his discussion with defensive end Taylor Wolfe in pre-game. Wolfe said, ‘It is about confidence and not cockiness.’
The Corydon Central Panthers exuded confident play Friday night in the first round of the football Class 3A Sectional 23 to avenge a touchdown loss to their opponent, Brownstown Central, the week before.
Going up 21-0 in the first half, the previously undefeated No. 5 Braves were forced out of their comfort zone of running the ball and were forced to pass, all while the Corydon Central offense, backed by 170 rushing yards and three touchdowns from Lucas Windell, led the No. 8 Panthers to a resounding 35-13 victory.
‘We stuck to it,’ Lucas Windell said of Wolfe’s statement. ‘We came off the ball 100 percent every time and believed in each other. We got first downs and drove the ball downfield.’
As if they were strapped in a Ferrari, the Panthers’ offense wasted no time cracking the scoreboard. On their opening drive, they drove 83 yards in five plays. Quarterback Chase Burton hit Tyler Ross and Jeffrey Durham for gains. Then, on a third-and-five, Lucas Windell took a toss sweep to his left and ran down the sideline for a 34-yard score.
Following a quick three-and-out from the Brownstown Central offense, Corydon Central used three plays to drive 63 yards for a score. Brothers Lucas and Jeremiah Windell picked up yards with a run each before Burton hit Ross for a 49-yard touchdown strike. In the first 4:19 of play, the Panthers found themselves up 14-0.
‘We wanted to come out and establish the sweep tonight,’ Corydon Central coach Darin Ward said. ‘We went back through film and, the way Brownstown played defensively, they gave us room on the end. We challenged our tight ends and our tackles to come out and reach guys and go get physical. We’ll take our backs one-on-one with safeties every day of the week.’
Brownstown Central’s Nick Stahl, who hit two field goals the week before, missed a 26-yard attempt in the first half.
In the second quarter, Corydon Central put together nearly a six-minute drive to make the game 21-0. The drive ended with Lucas Windell running in from the 5.
With 25 seconds left before the half, Brownstown Central moved the ball quickly downfield with passes from Jake Brown to Daulton Anderson and Wade Toppe. Following an incomplete pass from the 42 with 1.9 seconds left, Brownstown Central lineman Kelin Fritz went down with a leg injury. Following a near 30-minute delay to stabilize and cart Fritz off, the Braves scored via a ‘Hail Mary’ pass.
Brown heaved a pass that Braden Scarlett pulled in at the goal line to make the halftime score 21-7.
‘It hurt a little, but we knew in the locker room we were still up,’ said Corydon Central offensive lineman Greg Carver. ‘We came out and played a good second half. Against Brownstown the last few times, we’ve had bad second halves. But we came out and finished.’
The Panthers defense kick-started the second half with a bang. On the second play, Brown’s pass was tipped by Durham and intercepted by Ben Aich.
Brownstown Central put together a scoring drive in the third quarter when the Panthers were whistled for several face-mask penalties. The Braves eventually scored when Brown completed a six-yard pass to Anderson.
Wasting little time striking back, Lucas Windell took the next kickoff 80 yards up the gut for a touchdown, pressing the lead to 28-13.
‘I hit that hole and ran like they were chasing me,’ Lucas said.
‘We’ll take kickoffs to our best players all the time,’ Ward said. ‘Probably a poor decision on their part to kick it down the center to Lucas, but it is what it is.’
In the fourth quarter, the Braves drove near the red zone on two occasions but were stopped short on fourth-down attempts.
‘When you get the lead and get a couple scores, we’ll let teams complete some balls,’ Ward said. ‘It’s a matter of getting stops when you need them. We had stops in the red zone at the quarter change. We brought some pressure to put them in fourth and long then got off the field. It was a good performance by all our guys, especially our 18 seniors.’
Corydon Central then chewed more time off the clock when Jeremiah Windell essentially put the game away with a 13-yard touchdown run. In the 47 meetings between the schools, 35 points was the most a Corydon Central team has scored against Brownstown Central.
‘It was a complete game, but our kids had better focus and attention,’ Ward said of avenging the 33-26 loss at Brownstown the week before. ‘They were embarrassed how they played last week. They wanted to come out and play well. This is a good group of 18 seniors that take a lot of pride in their work ethic. They want to keep playing football for weeks to come.’
Carver said the big difference to him was the pace of play.
‘We had tempo the whole game after we scored first,’ the senior said. ‘We made a few bad plays but recovered. We wanted to win. It was a last-game mentality.’
Brownstown Central’s offense was held to 258 yards, including just 41 yards on the ground via 26 carries. Brown had a solid game in the air, completing 21 of 36 passes for 217 yards.
Corydon Central’s offense piled up 391 yards, including 257 on the ground. Lucas Windell became the first rusher to eclipse 1,000 yards for the Panthers since 2003 with his 170-yard day on 25 carries. Jeremiah had 75 yards on nine carries.
Burton was 5 of 12 passes for 134 yards. Ross caught three balls for a career-best 123 yards.
Jeremiah Windell led the defense with 14 tackles, while Lucas Windell had 12. Jackson Wilkerson and Justin Yates recorded a sack each.
Brownstown Central ends the season 9-1, its first time playing at the 3A level in football. Corydon Central improves to 8-2 and will seek to avenge another regular season loss in the sectional semi-final when the Panthers play at No. 12 Charlestown. The Pirates (8-2), who advanced by defeating North Harrison, 56-0, are on an eight-game winning streak and won the regular season meeting, 21-19, on Sept. 30. Salem (2-8) will travel to No. 8 Heritage Hills (8-2) in the other semi-final.
‘We didn’t play well down there,’ Ward said. ‘And we’ll go down there and play a better football game.’
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.