Panthers hang with undefeated Braves, fall 21-6
Corydon Central made it interesting in the second half Friday, coming within one score of Brownstown Central on the gridiron.
The Braves added a fourth-quarter touchdown to squeak by with a 21-6 victory over Corydon Central. Defeating the Panthers landed Class 3A No. 5 Brownstown Central the Mid-Southern Conference championship along with a perfect 9-0 mark during the regular season.
Brownstown Central had rolled through the regular season with the only other win coming by less than four touchdowns a 40-26 win over Charlestown.
Corydon Central proved to be one of the toughest defenses the Braves saw in nine games, holding them to three touchdowns after entering the game averaging 51 points per contest.
‘I thought we really flew around and were pretty sound coverage wise,’ Corydon Central coach Darin Ward said of the Panthers defense. ‘We didn’t really give up anything over the top or cheap. I thought we swarmed the ball and got off the field when we needed to.’
Digging a hole early, Brownstown Central scored on its second and third drives of the game. The second drive featured three key third-down conversions. The final was on third-and-4 from the 20. Taking a counter hand-off to the left, Jacob Wilson carried the ball for a touchdown toward the pylon.
On the third drive, Brownstown Central went to the air to advance down the field. Quarterback Clay Brown had passes of 8, 10 and 11 yards to set up a 1-yard run by the signal-caller. The score gave the home team a 14-0 lead.
During the course of Brownstown Central’s next seven possessions, including three before halftime, the Braves were held off the scoreboard.
Defensively, Brownstown Central posted a pair of shutouts coming into the game and had held all but two opponents to single-digit scoring.
Despite the lofty numbers, Corydon Central had chances in the opening half to score. A big kickoff return by Josh Allen advanced the ball past midfield to the Braves’ 39.
On fourth-and-3, tailback Alex McAfee had a big gain of 12 yards to put the ball at the 20. The next few plays doomed any chance of the Panthers scoring. Quarterback Lannis Buck was sacked, followed by the offense being whistled for a holding penalty on second down.
A screen pass to McAfee was snuffed out for a 5-yard loss, leaving Corydon Central with a fourth-and-35, forcing a punt.
Corydon Central was able to get Brownstown Central’s offense off the field with a quick series. Back on offense, Buck completed passes of 10 and 9 yards to T.J. Mathes. Buck then found McAfee for a 10-yard gain, moving the ball to the 14.
Two plays later, Buck’s pass attempt over the middle was intercepted by Mitchell Grider.
‘You’d love to take advantage of some field position we had,’ Ward said. ‘Our last drive before the half we actually got the ball down around the 15. Another we started to come backwards with holding calls, bad play and a sack we had a fourth-and-40.’
Ward said the team needed to capitalize on the drives, even if they settled for field-goal attempts.
‘You see where we were in the third quarter when we got stops defensively,’ he said. ‘You bust a run for 70, and we were in a one-score game.’
Late in the third quarter, after the Braves punted the ball to the 26, Corydon Central came up with an explosive play.
Buck carried the ball over center David Brann and went on a sprint toward the end zone. A fleet of Braves defenders couldn’t catch the brisk running Buck on his 74-yard touchdown effort.
‘We knew they were going to cover up everybody on our line but our center,’ Ward said. ‘They had one middle linebacker there, so he called a QB sneak. They squeezed and wedged down inside and tried to block the middle backer with the center and make the right cut. (Buck) made a good cut and showed some speed that he could go down the field and score.’
Corydon Central got the Braves off the field quickly again after the score, setting up the Panthers with a chance to tie the game. On a drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters, the Panthers ended up punting from inside their 15.
Taking the good field position, Brownstown Central drove 43 yards in six plays for a touchdown. Despite cornerback Shane Brown making a play for the ball, Brownstown Central’s Terry Anderson leaped over him to grab a pass from Clay Brown in the end zone.
The bid for a share of the Mid-Southern Conference came to an end for the Panthers when they failed to post points in the last two drives.
‘From the second quarter on, we had good energy,’ Ward said of the result. ‘We can’t come out and allow teams to put 14 points on the board in the first quarter. Whether we’re starting slow offensively or giving up some plays defensively to get our feet wet, we’re at the part of the season where we can’t let that happen.’
Buck paced the Panthers offense with 62 yards rushing on 10 attempts. He also completed 6 of 18 passes for 26 yards but threw two interceptions.
Alex Newton carried the ball for 35 yards, while Ezra Paden had 17 yards rushing.
Leading the team defensively was Jason Wisman with 14-1/2 tackles along with one sack. Logan Behagg had double-digit tackles with 10. Shane Brown finished the game with 7-1/2 tackles and an interception.
Brownstown Central finished with 279 yards of offense, including 177 on the ground.
Up next for Corydon Central (6-3) is the opening round of the Class 3A sectional where the Panthers drew a meeting at Charlestown. The Pirates (6-3) won the regular season meeting, 35-0, on Oct. 4.
‘The main thing is we didn’t play well a few weeks ago against Charlestown,’ Ward said. ‘When you spot them 14 points and, basically, we struggled with our commitment to go play in that second half. I think we’re excited to go play them. We’re look forward to the challenge.’
It’ll be the sixth time in the last seven series match-ups the Panthers will make the trip to Charlestown.
‘I kind of joked it’s our home away from home,’ Ward said. ‘It’s one-and-done time now, and we have 16 seniors that want to keep going in high school football. It’s one week at a time now.’
Kickoff will be at 7 p.m., and admission is $6 per person.