Flurry of late scores lift Panthers
Corydon Central football found itself in a tussle Friday night with Paoli.
In its home opener, the game seemed as if it was coming down to point-after conversions. Through three quarters Paoli was 0-for-3 on 2-point conversion tries while Corydon Central had two successful kicks by Dylan Higginbotham.
Come the final five minutes, trailing four points, the Panthers didn’t need the PATs, scoring a flurry of points to earn a 40-24 victory over Class 2A No. 15 Paoli.
“The kids played well,” Corydon Central coach Aaron Humphrey said. “We got behind the eight ball when we fumbled inside the 5 in the fourth but ended up getting a stop. Then, we scored three times in the last six minutes or so.”
Corydon Central got the ball back with just under five minutes to play. On the first play from scrimmage, Noah Denbo went 29 yards for a touchdown, putting the Panthers up 27-24.
Paoli’s next possession ended in an interception, not only a turnover to Corydon Central, but instant points for the home squad. Avery Timberlake picked off a Caleb VanMeter pass and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown.
“It was a good play by him,” Humphrey said of Timberlake. “We got out in front of him and got a couple of blocks. He did a great job of making his way to the end zone. I don’t think he was going to get stopped.”
Scoring wasn’t done there for the Panthers as Denbo notched his third score of the contest with a 17-yard rush.
“We put the challenge to them that week one wasn’t our best football,” Humphrey said. “We needed to play better, and I thought early on defense we gave up some big plays. We kind of settled down and made some adjustments right before half. I thought our defensive staff did a great job of making a couple adjustments that carried into the second half. (Jaeden) Singleton had an interception just before half. The second half, we came out and played well defensively.”
A scheme change on the offensive side of the ball proved beneficiary as well. Utilizing two running backs –– Chandler Money (15 carries, 115 yards) and Denbo (17 carries, 195 yards) –– led to an improved offensive attack.
“We went under center all game,” Humphrey said. “We went split backs, so it’s pretty easy to split up the carries. Both of them, I thought, did a really great job. We had a lot of yards after contact, which is what I liked seeing out of both of those guys.”
The first few series for both teams were highlighted by big plays. Paoli got on the board first by taking the first ball from scrimmage 51 yards to the house with Hobie Bobbitt getting the carry.
Corydon Central answered with a leaping touchdown reception by Drew Smith via Nolan Adams.
The big plays continued with Paoli’s VanMeter connecting a 55-yard pass to Aron Busick for a score. Countering, Denbo scampered 59 yards for a Panthers’ TD.
Trading scores in the second quarter, Bobbitt ran in from 3 yards out while Houston vonSchmittou snagged a fourth-down, 20-yard touchdown catch from Adams for Corydon Central. The Panthers, behind two made Higginbotham extra points, led 20-18 at half.
“(vonSchmittou) made a heck of catch there before half on a corner route,” Humphrey said. “Nolan made a great throw. Houston came down with it between two defenders. He finished the last five yards dragging two guys to the end zone. He played well blocking too and, when it came time to go make a play in the throw game, he did it.”
Adams completed two passes for 39 yards, both for touchdowns to defeat the defending 2A sectional champions.
“Paoli had seven guys going both ways, and all week we talked about the second and fourth quarter of wearing them down,” Humphrey said. “If we could do that, we could offensively and defensively open up on them. It happened to work that way in the fourth quarter.”
The Panthers (1-1) now will head to North Harrison (1-1) on Friday for the Big Cat Classic.
“I’m pleased with the way our guys finished the game Friday night,” Humphrey said. “We want to carry that momentum to this week. If you can’t get pumped up for rivalry week and the Big Cat Classic, then you probably can’t get pumped up.”
Paoli 12 6 0 6 – 24
Corydon Central 13 7 0 20 – 40
P – Hobie Bobbitt 51 run (conversion failed); CC – Drew Smith 19 pass from Nolan Adams (kick failed); P – Aron Busick 55 pass from Caleb VanMeter (conversion failed); CC – Noah Denbo 59 run (Dylan Higginbotham kick); P – Bobbitt 3 run (conversion failed); CC – Houston vonSchmittou 20 pass from Adams (Higginbotham kick); P – Bobbitt 4 run (conversion failed); CC – Denbo 29 run (Higginbotham kick); CC – Avery Timberlake 60 INT return (Higginbotham kick); CC – Denbo 17 run (kick blocked).