Panthers get rich in 2nd half
Brian Smith, Sports Editor, [email protected]
Taking a pitch to his right, Chandler Money had the option to pass or run as the final minute ticked off the first-half scoreboard.
Faking the throw, Money decided to keep, weaving his way through teammates who were blocking for him. He pushed away an Eastern (Pekin) defender and cut back toward the Panthers’ sideline. The highlight-reel touchdown run was a jolt of energy to the Corydon Central offense. A 72-yard trek to the end zone put the Panthers up 15-8 at the half.
It was just the momentum the Panthers needed. The second half was dominated by Money and Corydon Central, posting four second-half touchdowns for a lopsided 43-14 Mid-Southern Conference win over visiting Eastern.
“He’s good at making plays,” Corydon Central coach Aaron Humphrey said of Money. “It’s a high percentage play for us because if the throw is there, we take it, and if not, he pulls it down to basically run a sweep. He pulled it down and made a play. It was big for us because offensively we were in a rut for a span of the first half. It gave us a lot of momentum going into the second half.”
Corydon Central had to fend off another blitz-happy team Friday as Eastern brought plenty of numbers in an attempt to break up the run game. On a key third-and-long during Corydon Central’s first second-half possession, quarterback Nolan Adams rolled out to green pastures to pick up the first down.
Later facing a fourth down, Noah Denbo gained 11 yards when he needed nine, setting up a 17-yard touchdown run for Money.
Both backs eclipsed the 100-yard mark with Money going for 250 yards on 16 carries. Money scored a whopping four touchdowns.
“I came out with a good mentality that the team was going to go block for me,” Money said. “I ran my hardest.”
Denbo notched a late touchdown to go with his 126 yards on 18 touches. Money said the two-back system puts a smile on his face.
“It makes it so much easier for us for sure,” he said. “Running by yourself is harder, especially when you see the blitzes we have lately. Two backs and our bone (formation) helps pick up blitzes.”
Defensively, the Panthers forced three turnovers during the second half as well. Drew Smith tipped the ball around, but the bobble turned into an interception. A 22-yard return pushed the ball inside the Musketeers’ 10-yard line. Three plays later, Adams ran a sneak into the end zone for a 29-8 Corydon Central lead.
“Nolan played well,” said Humphrey. “He’s heady and can pull the down and run it. He picked up a big third down for us in the first half.”
Efficient in the air, Adams completed 6-of-9 passes for 49 yards with Smith having 38 of those.
Eastern put together a lengthy drive, eventually scoring with nine minutes to go on a Devin LaPointe rush. It took all of 50 seconds and a Money stiff-arm to get the points back on the Corydon Central side. Breaking free for a 72-yard touchdown, Money used his arm to send a member of the Musketeers’ secondary to the turf during the run.
Getting through the first line of defenders versus the blitz was executed better in the second half.
“That’s the thing, when you give other teams a template from a previous week, you are going to see it again and again,” Humphrey said of seeing aggressive defenses. “Until you handle it, you are going to keep getting it. We talked about the blitz giving us a little trouble in the first half. We got it shored up at halftime and picked things up. We did a better job of running the football.”
Cycling in a handful of younger players, the Panthers saw Hunter Schmitt intercept a pass near midfield. The turnover set up the final score, a 10-yard run from Denbo.
“I was glad to see our defense play well from the get-go,” said Humphrey. “We flew to the football throughout the game. We were able to force some turnovers. I was pleased with all phases of our game outside of the opening kickoff on special teams.”
“We have some young guys that like to fly around on defense,” said Money. “(Owen) Shireman is a young one that likes to play on the outside, and Joe Mullinex is a player. It’s a different defense this year.”
The game didn’t start as rosy for the Panthers, who gave up a 91-yard kick-off return to Eastern’s Demetrius McKinley to go down 8-0.
It took three possessions before the Panthers scored. Keyed by an Adams’ 18-yard pick up on fourth down, the first Panthers’ score came from Money on the first play of the second quarter, rushing in from the 12.
Neither team got much offense going in the first half, until Money’s big play toward the end of the second quarter.
Point-after tries were positive for the Panthers as well. Dylan Higginbotham nailed all five kicks, while Denbo rushed in a conversion.
“The guys are focused,” said Humphrey. “We continue to talk about discipline. It’s the discipline of doing the little things that come up throughout a game. The last two weeks we didn’t do that. I was proud of them today.”
Corydon Central improved to 2-3, while Eastern dropped to 0-5.
The Panthers will hit the road Friday to play at Salem (3-2) with kick-off set for 7 p.m. The Lions are coming off a 40-0 win at Clarksville.
Eastern (Pekin) 8 0 6 0 – 14
Corydon Central 0 15 14 14 – 43
EP – Demetrius McKinley 91 kickoff return (Devin LaPointe run); CC – Chandler Money 12 run (Dylan Higginbotham kick); CC – Money 72 run (Noah Denbo run); CC – Money 17 run (Higginbotham kick); CC – Nolan Adams 1 run (Higginbotham kick); EP – LaPointe 3 run (run failed); CC – Money 72 run (Higginbotham kick); CC – Denbo 10 run (Higginbotham kick).