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Braves command first half vs. Corydon, take opener

Braves command first half vs. Corydon, take opener
Braves command first half vs. Corydon, take opener
Brownstown Central’s Derek Thompson is brought down near the goal line by a host of Corydon Central defenders, including Owen Shireman (6) and Chase Straub (64). Photo by Brian Smith
Brian Smith, Sports Editor, [email protected]

Mid-August in Brownstown, there was a hint at needing a hoodie Friday night once the sun dipped below the Blevins Memorial Stadium stands, rare for the season opener in high school football.

While the air was pleasant and the humidity low, the Corydon Central squad struggled to find traction on the field. Brownstown Central certainly has the pedigree in its favor, winner of four of the previous six Class 3A Sectionals, and pounced on the Panthers.

Brownstown Central jumped on Corydon Central quickly, scoring on its first play from scrimmage (79-yard Derek Thompson keeper) and adding three non-offensive scores for a 43-0 half-time lead. The Braves went on to win 43-14 as Corydon Central notched a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.

“They’ll be maybe the best team we play in the regular season,” Corydon Central coach Aaron Humphrey said. “We have to get better at understanding we have to do our jobs. That gets back to being more self-disciplined. We have to be more self-disciplined.”

Preseason No. 8-ranked Brownstown Central scuffled on its second possession, but, on its second, found a score. The Corydon Central defense forced a third-and-9 before the Braves moved the chains with a 22-yard carry by Brandon Wilson. The drive concluded with a 3-yard touchdown trotted in by Braeden Walker.

Each team was bitten by penalties in the opening half. Corydon Central was whistled for a hold on its third drive, leading to another punt. The Braves, meanwhile, were going backward on its next possession. A holding penalty, an offsides call then a 5-yard loss on a Thompson run put the Braves in a third-and-28 situation.

Thompson was able to not only pick up the first down, but connect over the top with receiver Eli Brown for a touchdown and a 21-0 Brownstown Central lead.

“I think twice we had them in third-and-long situations,” Humphrey said. “We have to do a better job of communicating down and distance, understanding the game, being smarter football players. That’s what cost us.”

Special teams had some hiccups for the Panthers as well. Punter Dylan Higginbotham mishandled a skipping snap, which led to him getting sacked on fourth down, giving the Braves the ball at the Corydon Central 24-yard line. The Panthers, however, held strong on defense, forcing a turnover on downs. Noah Denbo had a tackle for a loss on the drive.

When the ball flipped to Corydon Central, the Panthers had a costly turnover. Quarterback Nolan Adams saw the snap on third down sail over his outstretched arms toward the end zone. Brownstown Central’s Logan Overshiner beat Adams to the ball for a touchdown on the recovery.

Brownstown Central scored twice more on turnovers. Brown picked off an Adams’ pass and returned it 40 yards for a score. The Braves later blocked a punt, with Justin Brewer recovering the block in the end zone.

“We give up two touchdowns on punts, and we can’t have that,” Humphrey said. “We dug a hole we couldn’t get out of. Overall, defensively, we did good things in the first quarter after (giving up) the touchdown. At the end of the day, you have to get off the field on third down, and we didn’t do it in the first half.”

Brownstown Central amassed 225 yards in the opening half, while the Panthers netted negative yardage.

“We couldn’t of had a worst first half, knock on wood, than we did tonight,” Humphrey said. “You can’t give up 14 points on special teams. Tipped balls for interceptions is going to happen. I had to challenge them. This season is a marathon, not a sprint, and, come next Friday, we have to play the best football we can play.”

Despite a 43-0 half-time deficit, Corydon Central had the highlights of the final half of football.

Chandler Money broke a lengthy run but was called back for a holding penalty on the Panthers. With Money catching a breather, Denbo had a carry of 10 yards before taking off on a 62-yard sprint down the left side of the field.

After a Brownstown Central fumble was pounced on by Corydon Central’s Bradley Pitts, Money added to the Panthers’ scoring with a 19-yard rush.

“I challenged them at halftime that we could don’t do anything about that first half, but to do what we were coached to do through the week and take it to the field,” Humphrey said. “I thought we did much better in the second half.”

It took the Panthers a while to get the ball moving on offense. Denbo led the team in rushing with 72 yards on two carries, while Money had 42 on 19 carries.

“(Brownstown Central) are good at what they do,” Humphrey said. “They were giving us trouble with some stunts up front, but we have to do a better job. When you do your job, good things will happen.”

Brownstown Central’s Thompson paced the Braves’ offense with 128 yards on nine touches.

The two teams met twice last season, with the Braves (1-0, 1-0 Mid-Southern Conference) taking the sectional opener. This season, after realignment, the two won’t meet again due to being in separate sectionals.

Corydon Central (0-1, 0-1) will return for its home opener Friday when the Panthers welcome Paoli (1-0) at 7 p.m.

Corydon Central          0    0   0  14 – 14

Brownstown Central  21  22  0   0  – 43

BC – Derek Thompson 79 run (Cooper Wolka kick); BC – Braeden Walker 3 run (Wolka kick); BC – Eli Brown 37 pass from Thompson (Wolka kick); BC – Logan Overshiner fumble recovery (Wolka kick); BC – Brown 40 INT return (Wolka kick); BC – Justin Brewer punt block recovery (Brandon Wilson pass from Brown); CC – Noah Denbo 62 run (Dylan Higginbotham kick); CC – Chandler Money 19 run (Higginbotham kick).