Pirates close door on CC
Corydon Central entered the postseason banged up.
Some players sat out Friday’s game with injury, including leading rusher Josh Allen, while others attempted to make a comeback for a playoff run.
Plugging in players, the Panthers stepped up to the challenge of rival Charlestown but were unable to seize the edge on the scoreboard. A Charlestown touchdown in each half ‘ one on fourth down and another on third and long ‘ led the host Pirates to a 15-6 victory over Corydon Central.
The score in the first round of the Class 3A Sectional was similar to the 13-6 win Charlestown posted in the regular season.
‘We played hurt,’ Corydon Central coach Mike Spencer said. ‘Josh Allen, we found out the end of the week we weren’t going to have him. We had a couple of kids playing hurt. We had a couple of those things hit at the wrong time.’
Although the injury bug crept in, Corydon Central fought to the end.
‘That team had a great heart,’ Spencer said post-game as plenty of hugs and tears were shared among the emotional Panthers.
‘I kept telling them, ‘This is character time’,’ Spencer said. ‘There are a lot of life lessons that come out of athletics. Knowing that you can reach down and bring things out of yourself that you weren’t sure you could get is a great one. Not everyone gets in a position to find out they have that. They stood up to the task. We never were out of the game, and we never gave up the idea we were out of it either.’
Corydon Central’s offense struggled at times in the final four weeks of the season, averaging a touchdown per outing. The schedule on the back end was much more challenging as well.
At the opening whistle Friday, Corydon Central put together a promising drive. Lannis Buck connected with T.J. Mathes for a first down. Carrying the ball out of the backfield, Austin Kopp had runs of five and six yards, moving toward midfield.
On third-and-eight, Buck scrambled to his right then threw up a pass that was picked off by Jason Houchens.
Charlestown then drove the ball 58 yards for a touchdown, peeling every second they could off the clock. The drive lasted a tick over seven minutes.
The Pirates had a pair of critical fourth-down conversions, the latter leading to a score. The first came when Antonyo Gaddie picked up two yards, just enough to bring out the sticks, for a first down.
Driving toward the goal-line, Charlestown converted a fourth-and-goal at the 4-yard line. Gaddie carried the ball off the left side, was wrapped up by Corydon Central’s Alex Newton, but fell forward into the end zone.
A fake field goal ‘ a pass from holder Garrett Woods to Eli Daniel ‘ put Charlestown up 8-0.
Through the rest of the first half, Corydon Central’s offense mustered three first downs while Charlestown picked up two. Corydon Central drove the ball twice toward midfield but weren’t able to get across the 50 before punting.
‘We had a couple things we just missed in our passing game,’ Spencer said. ‘I thought the first half we started off throwing the ball pretty well. The average fan can’t see some of the openings we saw. We did a really good job covering up people and getting to where we needed to be, but (Charlestown) is a pretty good ball club. We pushed them but not quite far enough to get a good alley. We popped a couple pretty good.’
Charlestown started the second half with a long drive that began at its own 18. Coached by former Corydon Central skipper Darin Ward, the Pirates used the legs of quarterback Tristan Chester to score a big fourth-down conversion. Running a bootleg from the Corydon Central 41, Chester kept the ball and crossed the field to reach the 24 for the first down. Three plays later, Chester connected with Gaddie for a 23-yard touchdown pass play.
The extra point put Charlestown ahead 15-0.
Corydon Central had another drive rolling to end the third quarter and start the fourth. Mathes caught a pair of short passes for a first down. On fourth down in Pirates’ territory, Charlestown’s Quinton Fetz was called for a face-mask while bringing down Buck.
The Panthers moved the ball to the 10 when Zach Mason hung on to a pass caught in traffic. The drive, however, stalled in part to a holding penalty. Corydon Central eventually turned the ball over on downs with six minutes to play.
‘You have to finish those off in a game like this,’ Spencer said. ‘A couple of routes broke off a little bit. There was some pressure, and that can effect a throw a little bit.’
Chewing clock again, Corydon Central didn’t get the ball back until 1:07 was left on the clock. Charlestown turned the ball over on downs when Steven Sallee, a defensive tackle returning from injury, sacked Chester.
Corydon Central’s lone scoring drive started with some trickery. Mathes caught a pass then tossed back to Jordan Watson, picking up 15 yards. Two plays later, Buck was on the move in the back field before firing a strike to Kopp at the end zone for a 40-yard score with 34 seconds remaining.
Going for two, the Panthers failed to convert a pass play, essentially ending the contest.
‘Really proud of the overall effort and not giving up,’ Spencer said.
Getting ready for the game was a challenge due to injuries. Wade Thomas slid into an inside linebacker role alongside senior Nathan Schmitt and performed well. Thomas led the Panthers in tackles with eight. Mason, filling in for Allen at safety, tallied seven stops.
‘We had to scramble to get ready,’ Spencer said. ‘I thought we responded really well considering all the changes we had to make. Wade did a really good job. Some of those young kids we talked about having to step in, when they got their time, they stepped in and made it count.’
In a game dominated by defense, Charlestown (8-2) had 255 yards of total offense, with 196 coming on the ground.
‘This week, I thought we played up a notch,’ Spencer said of the Corydon Central defense.
Corydon Central was held to 173 yards. The rushing game was led by Kopp, who carried 20 times for 75 yards.
Through the air, Buck was nine of 22 for 94 yards.
Corydon Central ended the season with a 6-4 record and will graduate 16 seniors.
Corydon Central 0 0 0 6 ‘ 6
Charlestown 0 8 7 0 ‘ 15
C ‘ A. Gaddie 3 run (Eli Daniel pass from A. Gomez); C ‘ A. Gaddie 23 pass from T. Chester (J. Arredondo kick); CC ‘ A. Kopp 40 pass from L. Buck (pass failed).