Cathedral comeback stuns Trojans
(SOUTHSIDER VOICE PHOTOS BY STEVE PAGE).
By Steve Page
Eric Moore was asked if he could remember any team scoring 27 unanswered points against his Center Grove football team.
“Never!” the Trojans’ coach exclaimed.
It was a never-before kind of game for Center Grove.
How much so? These Trojan seniors had never lost to another team from Indiana, though they had fallen by close margins to tough teams from Kentucky. But on Friday, they fell 40-29 to Cathedral’s dramatic comeback.
In this annual rivalry game, the Trojans, ranked second in Class 6A, hosted Cathedral, one slot behind in the rankings.
And for three quarters, the Trojans were looking pretty healthy. After giving up 13 points in the first frame, their defense blanked the Irish over the second and third quarters. And the offense made enough plays to score 29 points, overcoming repeated quarterback sacks by Cathedral.
It appeared to be more of the same to start the fourth period. After defensive back Michael Soderdahl intercepted a Cathedral pass at midfield, the Trojans, aided by a pass interference penalty, drove to a first-and-goal at the Cathedral 2. One play gained one yard, but on second down, the Trojans fumbled and the Irish recovered.
They drove the length of the field to score a touchdown, but the Trojans foiled an attempted two-point conversion pass, leaving the lead at 29-19.
Pinned deep in their own territory after the kickoff, the Trojans lined up to punt, but the Irish blocked the kick, with Stu Smith scooping up the ball at the 3 and scoring another touchdown. The conversion kick was good, trimming the once-comfortable lead to 29-26 with almost half the final frame remaining.
CG drove from the Trojan 31 to the Irish 32 before stalling. The Irish, who had used all of their timeouts during the Center Grove drive, took over at their own 32 with 1:34 to play.
Junior quarterback Danny O’Neil had passed well and scrambled well all night. Facing fourth-and-10, he hooked up with Zach Miller for a 30-yard gain to the Trojan 35. On the next play, he found Davie Ayers behind the defense in the end zone. With 50.8 seconds remaining, the Irish led 33-29, stunning the heretofore noisy home crowd into silence.
With time winding down, and the Trojans calling repeated timeouts, O’Neil hooked up with Brennan Wooten for a 60-yard, pass-run play that resulted in another touchdown and the final margin.
It was the fifth TD toss of the night for O’Neil, who finished 25-43-2 for 410 yards. That was more than the Trojans’ total yardage of 378.
“Congrats to them,” Moore said after the Trojans slipped to 7-2 while the Irish improved to 7-1. “Last year (a 21-6 win), we made more plays; tonight, they made more plays.”
The Trojans had numbers of their own. Junior quarterback Tyler Cherry finished 14-20-1 for 202 yards and a 27-yard touchdown pass to Noah Coy. Senior Jalen Thomeson had an outstanding night, gaining 94 yards on 19 carries and scoring three touchdowns – two on runs of two and 23 yards and the third on a cross-the-field, 35-yard punt return with 5:55 left in the third quarter that pushed the lead to 29-13. Senior Micah Cole gained 88 yards on 19 rushes.
The Irish ended the game on a fitting note for them, sacking Cherry for the eighth time as the clock wound down to zero.
“They had a couple of really good blitzes – blitzes we had not seen before,” Moore said. “There were a lot of plays where we had chances to seal it, and we didn’t do it.”
“Everything we do, we can improve on,” said Moore, whose team has an open week before beginning defense of Class 6A Sectional 8 at Franklin Central (3-6) on Oct. 28.
“The positive thing about this is we haven’t had a bad taste in our mouth for a long time,” Moore said. “Now they know what it feels like.”