Southport answered enough questions about its defense while upending visiting Roncalli in a thriller on opening night of high school football.
The Cardinals came up with four interceptions and made enough stops for a 36-28 win. Junior defensive back Jordan Tweedy snared two interceptions in the first half and senior linebacker Steven Pagel had two in the fourth quarter.
With no questions about their offense, Cardinals senior quarterback Eddie Schott threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns, including a record-setting 99-yard TD to Lucas Willoughby, 5 yards longer than the previous record in 2014 from Luke Johnston to Paul Scruggs.
Southport survived despite three turnovers.
“Last year it was the same thing; a lot of people doubted our defense,” Pagel said. “We knew we had to stop 46 (Elijah Mahan) to win. I tried to break down their blocks with leverage because he is shifty before he gets to the line.”
Mahan ran for 187 yards on 40 carries and two touchdowns. Mahan’s first TD was set up by a 28-yard run by Jacob Denney on a fake punt. Roncalli quarterback Alex Volk ran for two touchdowns.
Trailing 28-21 in the fourth, Southport drove 77 yards in eight plays with Schott completing six consecutive passes for 64 yards. Senior back Jalen Caldwell scored from the 1-yard line. Schott threw to junior receiver Ryan Lezon for the go-ahead two-point conversion.
Roncalli tried to retaliate, but Tweedy made a shoestring tackle on Rebels receiver Luke Dill on the Cards’ 42 that saved a potential TD. Roncalli lost 24 yards on a bad snap on the next play. Then Pagel came up with his second interception on a screen pass over the middle. Ninety seconds later, Caldwell scored his second touchdown to ice the game.
“Our defense is inexperienced and undersized,” Southport coach Brandon Winters said. “They don’t have to be special; they just have to be really good at doing their jobs. And when the opportunity presents itself to make a play, then that’s the play they have to make. This is a huge win; a great start for our season. I can’t wait to play again next week.”
Roncalli held Southport to 30 yards on the ground. From the sidelines: Teron Washington’s 9-yard TD in the fourth quarter enabled host Beech Grove to edge Lutheran 34-26 in an Indiana Crossroads opener …
No. 1 Warren Central defeated host Center Grove 27-15 … Decatur Central held visiting Franklin Central to only 57 yards rushing and shut out the Flashes 14-0 … Greenwood’s Nick Willham ran for 134 yards and a TD but Bloomington North prevailed 31-15 … host Heritage Christian defeated Manual 44-14 … Lawrence North pounded Perry Meridian 64-7. Friday’s games (7 p.m.): Beech Grove at Park Tudor, Center Grove at New Palestine, Indian Creek at Greenwood, Lighthouse East at Manual, Ritter at Lutheran, Roncalli at Franklin Central and Southport at Perry Meridian.