Safety, late TD aid Corydon by Perry
Sometimes it takes an entire effort to finish on the good side of a defensive battle in football.
Corydon Central nearly stretched the limit, but a touchdown with 3:35 to play in Leopold Friday night gave the Panthers not only their lone touchdown, but also the lead.
Clinging to an 8-7 advantage, Corydon Central’s defense continued its dominance of the Perry Central offense, recovering fumbles on both of the Commodores’ final two drives.
‘We talked a lot in the preseason about doing everything as a team,’ Corydon Central coach Darin Ward said. ‘We want to be disciplined and accountable and do things with class. We want to be mentally and physically tough, and guys have bought into that. It’s great to win as a team. Everyone contributed.’
After a scoreless first half, Corydon Central took the ball in the second half and wasted no time driving down field. Oscar Serrano returned the ball to midfield, but chunks of yards were picked up by Alex McAfee and Ben Woodward to put the Panthers in the red zone.
The drive halted, however, when Lannis Buck’s pass near the end zone was picked off by Jacob Braun and returned 43 yards. Two plays later, Austin LeClere broke through the Panthers defense, sprinting 42 yards for a Perry Central touchdown. LeClere’s extra point put the home team up 7-0 with 5:33 left in the third quarter.
Turnovers were an issue for both teams. They combined for 13 fumbles with Perry Central losing three and Corydon Central one.
Late in the third quarter, Lane Lynch lost a fumble for the Commodores which was recovered by Travis Phelps. Two plays later, in the red zone, Buck threw another interception at the 7.
Near their own goal line, Perry Central moved further back when whistled for offsides. Lynch fumbled the exchange but recovered the pigskin at the 2.
On the next play, Corydon Central put points on the board. LeClere tried to bounce a run out to the left, but Panther linebacker Jason Wisman wrapped up the senior two yards deep in the end zone for a safety.
‘You never expect to get a safety,’ Ward said.
The last Corydon Central safety came in 2003 against Brownstown Central when the Braves voluntarily took a knee.
‘But they didn’t have good field position then a penalty and they kept putting the ball on the ground with their quarterback with exchange problem,’ Ward said. ‘You get backed up, and our guys went and made a play. Travis Phelps had a big night with two fumble recoveries.’
Two possessions later came the winning 85-yard drive for Corydon Central.
Ezra Paden carried the ball for 13 and 11 yards. Buck also settled in at quarterback with two passes, both to T.J. Mathes.
Facing a fourth-and-1 at the 11, Buck elected to keep the ball under center and race to the goal line, untouched, for a score. After the failed two-point conversion, the Panthers led 8-7.
‘It was a different play called, but he always has the choice to sneak it,’ Ward said. ‘I was sitting on the headset saying, ‘Sneak it, sneak it’ and they had two twos and weren’t covering him up and all he had to do was get a yard. Sometimes that happens when you bring everybody down; that one-yard sneak turns into a big score. It was big.’
Perry Central’s next possession resulted in a fumble that was once again picked up by Phelps, who wasted no time excitedly yelling to teammates on the sideline that it was ‘My ball!’
‘The guys didn’t give up after the score and kept playing,’ Ward said. ‘We happened to get a safety, then we get another good drive going and pop a fourth-and-one sneak for a touchdown. That’s how these physical games go.’
The Commodores were able to get possession for the final time with 1:41 to play, but, on the second play, fumbled away to see Corydon Central’s Morgan Jones pounce on the ball.
Perry Central fumbled eight times, losing three, with a majority coming on center-to-quarterback exchanges. Lynch also tossed an interception on the opening drive of the game. Serrano went up and took the ball, which was intended for Dacota Shaad, out of the air.
‘I was concerned going into the game with Shaad at wideout and keeping leverage on his route,’ Ward said. ‘We didn’t want to give up plays over the top, and we were sound there.’
Corydon Central’s first possession was driven to the 10 after starting on its own 20. A fumble, however, ended the momentum.
Perry Central’s best first-half drive came in the second quarter, but, on fourth-and-8 at the 29, Logan Behagg dropped LeClere for a loss of two. The drive to the 29 was the farthest the Commodores would get with the exception of LeClere’s lengthy touchdown run.
‘It was a first half where we had some good momentum and turned it over a few times,’ Ward said. ‘We controlled the first quarter, and they controlled the second. It became a field-position game.’
Ward said the goal was to get late into the third quarter with a chance to win on the hot and humid night.
‘I felt like it was sliding our direction when (Perry Central) was cramping up a little here and there. I felt our conditioning led to better energy late in the game,’ he said.
McAfee led the Panthers offense with 107 yards on 22 carries. Paden provided a nice back-up, picking up 57 yards on 12 carries. Woodward ran for 21 yards.
From behind center, Buck finish 6 of 12 passing for 44 yards.
For Perry Central, LeClere had 130 yards on 15 carries. Nathan Shaw had 24 carries for 52 yards.
Defensively, Behagg recorded 10 tackles, along with two for losses. Brayden Lander had seven tackles, one for a loss.
‘It was a physical game,’ Ward said. ‘Coming from our scrimmage to tonight, we knew it would be a much more physical game. Fumbles will happen, but we’ll get that stuff cleaned up and look to get better next week.’
The 8-7 score wasn’t the lowest output statewide in week one: Carmel defeated Indianapolis Tech 6-2.
Corydon Central will welcome rival North Harrison Friday for a 7 p.m. showdown in the annual Big Cat Classic. The Panthers have won four straight in the series, including a 41-0 shutout a year ago.
Panthers to honor 50 years
Corydon Central High School will celebrate its 50 years of football at the Sept. 6 varsity game against Silver Creek.
Past players are encouraged to attend the home game in Corydon, which will kick off at 7 p.m. There will be a reception before the game, and former players and coaches will be announced at halftime. The reception will take place in a tent near the field where past players are encouraged to visit with former coaches and teammates.
Prior to the Silver Creek kickoff, the youth football league players and cheerleaders will be recognized.
For more information, call the school’s athletic office at 738-6155.