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Panthers prevail over Lions

Panthers prevail over Lions
Panthers prevail over Lions
Corydon Central senior running back Anthony Martin races along the sideline past Evan Bowling of Salem in the second half of Friday night’s 32-16 Mid-Southern Conference win over the Lions. Martin scored a touchdown on offense and defense in the victory. Photo by Alan Stewart
By Alan Stewart, Contributing Writer

It took a little while to get going, but after dropping the first three games of the season, Corydon Central has won three straight, capped by Friday night’s 32-16 Mid-Southern Conference victory over visiting Salem.

It’s the first three-game win streak in the Aaron Humphrey era at Corydon Central, the first time the club has hit the hat trick regardless of opponent since 2016 and the first in conference play since 2015.

Though not a perfect outing by the Panthers — with nearly 100 yards in penalties — style points aren’t factored on the scoreboard when you are working your way back to even on the season.

“I think it’s a great team win. We played well on both sides of the ball, and we were pretty efficient on special teams other than the one drop, and there was a great onside kick their kid had,” Humphrey said. “I’m pleased with the effort. I thought our defense played great and our offensive line played a really good game. We ran the football as efficient as we have all season, and that’s a credit to the O-line who continues to come to work every week. I’m just overall pleased with the win.”

Panther senior back Anthony Martin, more known for his bruising running style, had a sack and a strip-and-score on defense to go along with his 15 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown on offense.

“Before the game, I challenged him defensively. I knew he could have a great night and what Salem does offensively; he stepped up tonight and I couldn’t be more proud of what he did tonight on both sides of the ball,” Humphrey said of his senior.

The Lions (1-5, 1-4 MSC) turned to their bell cow back, junior Evan Bowling, throughout the contest. Seven of the first eight plays were handoffs to Bowling, but it was a 38-yard pass from Kaleb Tucker to Justin Stephenson that broke the ice. Tucker carried in the point-after for an 8-0 lead.

Corydon Central (3-3, 3-2 MSC) went three-and-out on its first offensive possession, but Salem fumbled the ball and lost possession six plays later.

The Panthers took over near midfield. A 37-yard run (which was probably closer to 75 yards considering he went from the center of the gridiron to one side line and back to the other before racing down the sideline) by Wes Taylor after a short dump off by quarterback Tyler Fessel got the hosts on the board. Bryce Gerlach kicked the PAT to make it a one-point affair that held to the first break.

The hosts added two more six-pointers on the board in the second frame, including a three-yard trip around left end by Fessel and a one-yard plunge by Martin that was set up by a fumble recovery by Dawson Ayres.

Corydon Central led at the intermission, 19-8, and then tacked on another seven points to start the second when Martin stripped the ball from Bowling and took it to the house at the 9:54 mark.

The Panthers’ final score of the contest came with 9:03 left in the fourth when Fessel tossed a bomb to a wide-open Jalen Fowler from 41 yards away. Gerlach’s kick made it 32-8.

Salem scored on its next possession on a nine-yard run by Adam Mull, who replaced an injured Tucker earlier in the contest. Mull added a two-point run to set the final score.

Fessel had nine carries for 55 yards with a rushing touchdown and two passing touchdowns. Fowler, who was named Week 5 Player of the Week by Southern Indiana Sports Network for his 10-catch, school-record 259-yard, four receiving touchdown, one punt return touchdown game against Eastern (Pekin) two weeks ago, had six catches for 85 yards with a score.

The Panthers netted 12 first downs and were flagged nine times for 95 yards, while Salem had three penalties for 20 yards and gaining 10 first downs.

Bowling led the rushing attack for the Lions with 102 yards on 23 attempts, with Stephenson pulling down four receptions for 76 yards.

Looking ahead, Humphrey said he knows this Friday night’s tilt at conference leader Charlestown (5-1, 4-0) won’t be easy. The Pirates are undefeated in the MSC and have suffered just one setback on the season two weeks ago against Providence, 35-28.

Charlestown is averaging a tick over 39 points on offense per outing and giving up an average of 18. Comparatively, Corydon Central is scoring 31.2 ppg. while giving up 37.3.

“I know they are a good, well-coached football team, but I like our guys. Our guys are going to come to work, and we’ll get a game plan together and see what we can come up with,” Humphrey said. “Obviously, they are a good football team and are in the driver’s seat for the conference. We look forward to the challenge next Friday night.”

Kickoff at Dutch Reis Field in Charlestown is slated for 7 p.m.

Prior to the game, from 5 to 6:30, the City of Charlestown will host a Music in the Park at the Family Activities Park across from the football stadium. Robin Embry will provide the entertainment, and there will be free 18-hole miniature golf, roller skating and more. Concessions will be open.

Salem 8 0 0 8 – 16
Corydon Central 7 12 6 7 – 32
Salem – Justin Stephenson, 38-yd pass from Kaleb Tucker (Tucker run); Corydon Central – Wes Taylor, 37-yd pass from Tyler Fessel (Bryce Gerlach kick); Corydon Central – Fessel, 3-yd run (pass failed); Corydon Central – Anthony Martin, 1-yd run (run failed); Corydon Central – Martin, 10-yd fumble return (kick failed); Corydon Central – Jalen Fowler, 41-yd pass from Fessel (Gerlach kick); Salem – Adam Mull, 1-yd run (Mull run).
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