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Panthers blank Charlestown

Panthers blank Charlestown
Panthers blank Charlestown
A Charlestown running back is met by a gang of Corydon Central tacklers during the Panthers’ 14-0 Mid-Southern Conference win Friday night at Charlestown. Photos by Ross Schulz
Ross Schulz, Contributing Writer

The Corydon Central Panthers put together a dominant defensive effort Friday night on the road to end a 12-game losing streak to the short-handed Charlestown Pirates. The Panthers held Charlestown scoreless, only surrendering 202 yards of offense to the home team in a 14-0 win. Corydon Central had plenty of success on offense as well, piling up nearly 500 yards of offense (486), but three untimely turnovers ended drives in the red zone.

Panthers blank Charlestown
Corydon Central’s Chandler Money looks for a block from teammate Anthony Martin for some running room during Corydon Central’s 14-0 win at Charlestown.

Charlestown received the opening kick-off and put together the best drive of the night, methodically driving down the field with running back Devin Lukes. The Pirates were using a lot of time, presumably trying to shorten the game with about half of their players sidelined from a quarantine situation.

Corydon Central senior Drew Smith came up with a big stop on fourth down to end the drive at the Panthers’ 15-yard line.

With the help of a fourth-down conversion from running back Anthony Martin and big runs from Chandler Money, the Panthers found themselves in scoring position early in the second quarter. Quarterback Tyler Fessel found one of his favorite targets, fellow sophomore Jalen Fowler, for a touchdown on the far right side of the end zone.

Later in the quarter, more bruising running from Martin and a deep Fessel-Fowler connection brought the Panthers within scoring position. A bad stretch of three straight procedure penalties made it second and goal from the 31-yard line. Fessel, on the run, launched a deep ball that was picked off by Charlestown’s Jaron Almeciga at the 1-yard line.

Another positive drive would end with a Charlestown interception near the goal line, and the Panthers had to settle for a 7-0 lead at the break.

“We didn’t finish in the red zone; the game should have been 21-0 at the half,” head coach Aaron Humphrey said. “We kind of did that last week. We’ve got to really work on red-zone offense and get better at that.”

The third quarter saw more of the same: Fessel finding Fowler, Martin and Money running successfully and the Charlestown offense having little success.

Martin eventually scored from the 1-yard line, after Fessel’s quarterback keeper took it down near the goal line.

Martin finished with 179 yards on 17 carries, while Money also topped the century mark with 102 yards on 17 carries.

“My coaches influenced me to run as hard as I could, and that’s what I did,” Martin said. “We ran max backs almost the whole game, so I got a lot of runs.”

Martin’s strong play was not limited to the offensive side Friday night. On Charlestown’s next possession, he ripped the ball free from a Pirate for a fumble, which the Panthers recovered. Corydon Central had a couple more scoring opportunities: a missed field goal from 31 yards and the final possession ended inside the Pirates’ 10-yard line when the clock expired.

“I thought defensively we played well,” Humphrey said. “Sometimes over the course of the season you’re going to win one that’s ugly, and this was a little bit ugly at times offensively. All in all, it’s a win and we won’t ever turn those down.”

Fowler led the winners with 119 yards receiving on five catches with the one touchdown. It marked the fourth consecutive game Fessel and Fowler have hooked up for at least one score.

Nolan Adams had two catches for 29 yards, and Money rumbled for 31 yards on his only reception.

Fessel finished 8 for 14 for 179 yards with a score and two interceptions.

Senior lineman Chase Straub often found himself lined up against Charlestown’s highly-touted 6-7, 300-pound 4-star offensive lineman Kiyaunta Goodwin.

“He’s a big guy; he’s tough,” Straub said. “I think we held our own on him.”

The Panthers have already won more games this season than in Straub’s previous three of high school football.

“We’re looking pretty good, not bad at all,” he said.

The win marked the first in the regular season against Charlestown since 2010, and it was the first shutout for the Panthers since 2015.

Corydon Central improves to 4-2 overall and 3-2 in the Mid-Southern Conference. The Panthers will stay on the road Friday, matching up with 3-4 Clarksville.

Corydon Central            0     7     7     0 – 14

Charlestown     0     0     0     0 –   0

Corydon Central-Jalen Fowler 8 pass from Tyler Fessel (Nathan Lisher kick); CC-Anthony Martin 1 run (Lisher kick).