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Wet pigskin can’t derail Panthers

Wet pigskin can’t derail Panthers
Wet pigskin can’t derail Panthers
Corydon Central full back Ben Woodward scores the game's opening touchdown for the Panthers after getting past Eastern's Coty Estes in the first quarter. Photo by Brian Smith (click for larger version)

Dealing with Mother Nature wasn’t a problem for the Corydon Central football team Friday and neither was the Eastern (Pekin) offense.
Scoring a 35-0 shutout on the road, Corydon Central improved to 5-0 on the season and 4-0 in Mid-Southern Conference play. The Panthers are one of nine teams still undefeated through five games in Class 3A, mostly through a stingy defense that is allowing a measly 6.6 points per game. The stat ranks Corydon Central seventh in the state in fewest points allowed and the best in its class.
‘We hadn’t felt like we’ve played a solid four quarters yet,’ Ward said after the heavy rains drenched the coaches and players on the sidelines. ‘I don’t know if we got there tonight, but we’re a lot closer. We showed good parts in all phases, probably a good 3, 3-1/2 quarters of good sound football by us.’
Wasting no time, Corydon Central scored on its first drive of the game. Following a big pickup by a scrambling Lannis Buck to the 2, the game was delayed when Eastern (Pekin) defensive back Nick Jenkins suffered an injury on the play.
Once play resumed, fullback Ben Woodward carried the ball over left guard to the end zone to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead.
‘It was a nice opening drive to punch it down the field,’ Ward said. ‘Alex Newton carried the ball well. It seems like right after we scored, here came the rain. These types of nights, when you get ahead, it’s tough to make it up.’
By the time the Panthers got the ball back, heavy rains hovered over Eastern’s field. Late in the first quarter, Corydon Central fumbled the ball three consecutive times, but the third was recovered by the Musketeers.
Eastern put together a solid drive after the turnover but, when the Musketeers faced first-and-goal at the 2, Corydon Central stepped up. A quarterback sack, then a run stuffed forced third down. Eastern then jumped offside, placing the ball at the 7. A running play to the 3 was as close as the Musketeers would get to scoring because Austin Roberts’ pass on fourth down was incomplete.
Later in the second quarter, Corydon Central was able to drive into Eastern territory. Alex McAfee had a 7-yard pickup on a fourth down, but Corydon Central’s drive died at the 16. Setting up for a long field-goal attempt in the slop, holder Lannis Buck had trouble with the snap. Improvising, Buck ran left, behind kicker Cory Thomas, to pick up the first down and move the ball to the 2 with 24 seconds on the clock.
‘He dropped it, but a headsy play by Buck,’ Ward said. ‘A lot of guys freeze, but our kicker got out in front and made a play blocking. We probably stole a touchdown before the end of the half.’
The drive ended with Buck completing his first pass attempt to tight end Cody Catlett on a bootleg to the right, giving Corydon Central a 14-0 halftime lead.
‘It probably should have been 7-7 at the half, but it was nice to see our guys keep fighting with a good defensive stand,’ Ward said.
Out of the second half, a defensive stand forced a quick Musketeers punt. An Eastern penalty on the play prompted good field position for the Panthers. A pair of Josh Allen runs brought the pigskin to the 2. Allen polished off the drive with a run from the 2 for a touchdown, putting the Panthers ahead by three touchdowns.
In the fourth quarter, Corydon Central would add two more TDs: an Allen 9-yard run and a 42-yard run by Alex Newton.
Despite the soggy conditions, the Panthers were near perfect on special teams. Newton had two punts, averaging 45-1/2 yards, and Thomas made all five extra-point attempts.
‘You can’t make excuses about snaps or it’s wet; we let them struggle with punt snaps, but we were sound and secure in that phase,’ Ward said. ‘The kick game was sound today. We had good kick coverage and good kickoffs. I think their average starting spot was around the 22-, 23-yard line.’
Six different Panthers had carries, led by Newton with 13 for 96 yards. Allen had eight carries for 60 yards, while Woodward had 11 for 58 yards.
Buck had 25 yards rushing while completing both passing attempts, the second a 26-yarder to Brayden Lander.
As a team, the Panthers tallied five sacks, led by two by Morgan Jones. Alex McAfee, Nathan Schmitt and Travis Phelps had one each. Linebacker Logan Behagg paced the team in tackles with 10-1/2.
Corydon Central will host Paoli (3-2) Friday at 7 p.m.