BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – It may be hard to believe, but the high school football season is already one-third complete, and week three proved to be heartbreaking for the Taylor Titans while the Eastern Comets improved to 3-0 for the second consecutive season.
In the best game of the weekend, Taylor came within one minute of a perfect start to the season. But a late Carroll touchdown in Hoosier Heartland Conference action gave the Cougars a 28-27 win. The difference in the game was a missed second quarter extra point and the inexperience of the Titans squad – something offensive coordinator AJ Grezenko did not want to use as an excuse.
“We had to rely on a lot of young kids as injuries have bit us,” he said. “We had a lot of freshmen and sophomores in the game. We had half of a JV line and a freshman quarterback in there, and still held our own. But our kids didn’t quit – I can’t tell you how proud I am of them right now. Our kids are growing and they took this one to heart, despite being young.”
The Titans started the game strong, leading 13-0 at the half. Anthony Townsend scored both of Taylor’s first-half touchdowns on a four-yard score on the Titans first possession and then an eight-yard scamper in the second stanza. With the score 13-7, Townsend added a third touchdown when he shed multiple Carroll defenders for a 19-yard touchdown run.
Taylor quarterback Trower Davis struck pay dirt early in the fourth quarter when he found Jayden Davis for a 25-yard touchdown and a 27-14 lead.
But they could not hold the lead as Quinton Veach scored three plays later and Trevon Lambert landed in the end zone to tie the game with one-minute left. Veach capped a huge game by hitting the go-ahead extra point; he finished with two receiving touchdowns, one rushing touchdown and four extra points.
Eastern 58, Wes-Del 6
The Eastern Comets remembered how they slipped by Wes-Del one year ago – and they vowed to take the game into their own hands this time around. The result was a dominating 58-6 win in the final game of the two-year series.
“Our kids came out excited and fired up,” said head coach Josh Edwards. “Last year was a 6-0 ball game and they had a chance to win it before they fumbled on the three-inch line and we recovered. So this time, we wanted to make sure it wasn’t close in the fourth quarter.”
Bryce Buckley got the scoring started by blocking a punt, which Ethan Jones returned for a 6-0 lead.
“We wanted to come out and establish our selves early, and our defense set the tone. We blocked a punt and scooped it up and took it in for a touchdown,” said Edwards “To be quite honest, our kids then rolled.”
The Comets lead 28-0 after the first 12 minutes thanks to a pair of Zane Downing touchdown runs and a Dakota Spencer score. Eastern went to the air in the second stanza as quarterback Nolan Grubb found Eli Elkins and Downing with scoring passes for a 41-0 lead at the break.
The lead was 51-0 to start the fourth quarter after Garrett Hetzner hit Greg Black with a touchdown pass and Lance VanMatre connected on a 22-yard field goal. The final score came on a 45-yard pick-six by Cam Smith.
Western 42 at 2A No. 6 Rensselaer Central 14
It may have taken two long bus rides to Jasper County, but Western head coach Alex Stewart celebrated his 31st birthday with an upset 42-14 win over Class 2A No. 6 Rensselaer Central in Hoosier Conference play. On Friday night, the Panthers traveled away from Eastern Standard Time to the Central time zone, only to see lightning linger enough to postpone the game to 10 a.m. on Saturday. After the delay, the team returned to Russiaville around midnight and were back on the road at 6:30 a.m.
But the lightning remained at Rensselaer Central – only this time in the form of the Panthers offense. Kitchel Gifford took Western’s first offensive play 69-yards for a touchdown to start the blowout. Rensselaer took a 7-6 lead before the Panthers took a 27-7 lead at halftime.
Gifford finished with four touchdowns, adding a four-yard run and two receiving scores of 52 and 85-yards. Freshman quarterback Jett Engle and Josh Coleman also added rushing touchdowns in the victory.
Kokomo 7 vs Class 4A No. 16 Marion 46
For the first time since 2013, the Kokomo Wildkats are 0-3 to start the season. And for the first time since 2006, the Kats lost a football game to the Marion Giants. Down 13-7 at the half, the Giants dominated the final 24 minutes of action for an easy 46-7 victory at Walter Cross Field.
“It is never fun to lose to Marion, but I give them credit,” said Kokomo head coach Richard Benberry. “I believe we held our own in the first half. But we have to put together a complete game.”
The Giants not only dominated the scoreboard, they dominated the line of scrimmage by holding Kokomo to negative 24 yards rushing on 25 attempts. It marked the first time the Kats had negative rushing yards since a negative 36 outing against Muncie Central in August 2001.
On a positive note, Kokomo quarterback Levi Hrabos connected on 17 of 32 attempts for 254 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The 32 attempts are tied second-most in school history, the 17 completions are tied for fourth-most, and the 254-yards through the air ranks fifth-best.
Steven Edwards caught eight passes for 131 yards and Julian Wallace had four reception for 74 yards, including an unbelievable 50-yard, behind-the-back catch in the second quarter for the Kats only score of the night.
Northwestern 0 at 1A No. 14 Lafayette Central Catholic 55
Northwestern’s season continues to unravel after a 55-0 loss to Lafayette Central Catholic. The Knights scored on its second play from scrimmage and never looked back, leading 21-0 after one quarter and 41-0 at the half. The Tigers are 0-3 for the first time since starting the season 0-7 in 2002.
Quotes courtesy of Chris Lowry and the WIOU Saturday Morning Coaches Show