Sloppy weather pours on Panthers
There wasn’t much scoring, but there was plenty of precipitation.
Not long after Charlestown’s scoring drive midway through the first quarter, a heavy downpour of rain soaked the Corydon Central field, affecting playing conditions Friday.
It was a grind the rest of the way for both teams. Stellar defensive play took over as neither mounted much offensive momentum. Charlestown extended its 7-0 halftime lead to 13-0 in the final quarter.
Once Corydon Central scored via an Austin Kopp 1-yard run, the Panthers were within striking distance. A late trick-play attempt by the Panthers went for naught, leading to the Pirates winning a flag-filled Mid-Southern Conference battle, 13-6.
‘Defensively, we played very well,’ Corydon Central coach Mike Spencer said. ‘We found out today we can corral a little bit of speed.’
Emotion played a bit into the contest as well with Darin Ward, Corydon Central’s coach the previous five seasons, coaching on the opposite sideline. Ward, the winningest coach in the Panthers’ program, also was the head man from 2001 to 2003.
Spencer’s message to his team was to channel whatever emotions the Panthers had toward their play on the gridiron.
‘I try to not let myself get involved in the emotion of these games because I’ve been in this business a long time,’ Spencer said. ‘I’d like to use the emotion to create positive things, and I really thought our kids did that.’
Prior to the rain, Charlestown used its passing game to strike first. Quarterback Tristan Chester connected with tight end Hunter Crace for a sizable pick up to the 48. One play later, Chester threw a fade to the front right pylon into the arms of Garrett Woods for a 37-yard touchdown.
Mother Nature then took over.
Corydon Central running back Josh Allen lost a ball during the first play from scrimmage during the wind-driven rain but recovered. Charlestown had a mistake of its own when Allen intercepted a Chester pass.
Early in the second quarter, driving past midfield, Kopp fumbled on a fourth-and-1. After a mad scramble for the pigskin ‘ touched by Charlestown’s Jacob Wheeler and Kopp ‘ the ball squirted out of bounds. After consulting each other, the referees gave the ball to the Pirates despite objection from the Corydon Central sideline.
Penalties on the Pirates didn’t allow for them to take advantage of the miscue. Before the half, Corydon Central put together its best drive to that point. On another fourth-and-1, Kopp picked up several yards, driving to the nine.
A holding penalty and a quarterback sack sent the Panthers backward 29 yards from the end zone. They later turned the ball over on downs.
‘We made a couple mistakes at times that took us out of a drive or two,’ Spencer said. ‘We had a couple nice plays. We missed a little bit on some of our passes that we would have made.’
At the half, Charlestown had 118 yards offense to Corydon Central’s 76. For the game, Charlestown out-gained the Panthers 237-193.
Corydon Central’s defense came up with a big stop on the opening drive of the second half. The Pirates marched down to the 28, mainly through the ground game. On third down, Cameron Ayers came up with a key tackle at the line of scrimmage. Kopp, playing on defense as well, intercepted Chester on fourth down.
In the fourth quarter, Chester had a key completion on fourth down, leading to the Pirates extending their lead. With the Corydon Central defensive back slipping on the play, Chester completed a pass to the three, setting up a 3-yard TD plunge by the signal caller.
Corydon Central rallied back. Several penalties on Charlestown helped Corydon Central complete an 82-yard scoring drive. Kopp also had a gain of 12 yards before scoring from the 1-yard line. A failed two-point conversion brought Corydon Central within a touchdown, 13-6.
With 2:41 to play, Corydon Central got the ball back but was pinned at their own 2-yard line. Behind runs from Nathan Schmitt and Kopp, the Panthers moved 29 yards ahead. Down to the final 90 seconds, Allen attempted a half-back pass, but the ruse was picked off by Tate Boley.
Corydon Central’s inside linebackers Jacob Wallot (seven) and Nathan Schmitt (six) led the team in tackles. Spencer also tinkered with personnel on defense to help offset Charlestown’s speed.
‘We had to make a couple of changes at the last minute on defense and, as a result, we played (quarterback) Lannis (Buck) a little more on that side,’ Spencer said. ‘He’s a good athlete, so we can share him on defense.’
Offensively, Kopp carried the ball 17 times for 99 yards. Allen had 33 yards, while Schmitt had 27. Through the air, Buck was five of 14 for 22 yards.
‘In the state of Indiana, if you can’t run the ball, there will be nights like this where you need the run game,’ Spencer said of adjusting to the slick conditions.
Charlestown running back Antonio Gaddie led his team in rushing with 101 yards on 20 carries.
Penalty yards added up for both teams. Charlestown was flagged 11 times for 115 yards, while Corydon Central was assessed 85 penalty yards on eight calls.
‘With flags, it kills your momentum,’ Spencer said.
Despite the loss, snapping a five-game win streak, Corydon Central remains in the hunt for the MSC title. Brownstown Central, 5-0 in league play, is the lone undefeated program, while Charlestown and Corydon Central have one loss each. The Panthers have remaining games at Salem (Friday) and versus Brownstown Central (Oct. 17).
‘Our kids, there are mistakes we can correct but one thing with this group I won’t question is their heart,’ Spencer said. ‘They play very hard and put everything on the line in this game.’
Corydon Central will hit the road Friday to face Salem at 7 p.m.
Charlestown 7 0 0 6 ‘ 13
Corydon Central 0 0 0 6 ‘ 6
C ‘ G. Woods 37 pass from T. Chester (J. Arredondo kick); C ‘ T. Chester 3 run (pass failed); CC ‘ A. Kopp 1 run (run failed).