Perry Meridian’s Jonathan Hunter (5) stiffarm’s Decatur Central defender Mykul Campbell (4) as Hunter begins his 44-yard touchdown run in the second quarter of Friday’s game at DC.
(SOUTHSIDER VOICE PHOTOS BY STEVE PAGE)
As an explosive wide receiver, Chris Richmond doesn’t play much defense for Decatur Central’s football team.
But he was out there late Friday as the Hawks, with the score tied 7-7, attempted to stop a late bid by Perry Meridian in their key Mid-State Conference showdown at Devere Fair Stadium.
“I had to step in when I needed to help my team,” said Richmond, a 5-7, 145-pound senior. “I’m a ball hog. If the ball is in the air, I’m going to get it.”
Richmond stepped in front of tight end Jaylen Young and intercepted Allen Zupan’s pass at the Falcons’ 33-yard line. With no one in front of him, Richmond raced into the end zone for the pick six score. Ashton Vogel kicked his second conversion, and the Hawks led 14-7, thanks to two scores in 71 seconds.
“In the fourth quarter, the Hawks’ O got a spark from Halbert Aguirre as Bo Polston picked up an errant snap and made a great play to toss it to big Hal,” DC coach Kyle Enright said of the 33-yard TD run with 7:15 remaining. “He did the rest, breaking tackles and running away from the Perry defense for the Hawks’ first score.”
The Hawks later stopped the Falcons on fourth down with 2:02 to play. As was the case all night, hanging onto the football proved tough for the Hawks. They fumbled it back to the Falcons, who drove to a fourth-and-one at the DC 14 with 53 seconds remaining. Again, the Hawks stopped a running play, and this time, they took a couple of knees as time ran out on the Falcons.
The conclusion was not so amicable for the teams, who began skirmishing instead of shaking hands. Parents and coaches separated the players, sending them straight into their respective locker rooms.
Still, it was yet another comeback for the Hawks, who given other Mid-State outcomes, found themselves with a new chance to take the conference crown.
They’re 4-2 and share first with Plainfield, Franklin and Martinsville with one game remaining on the league schedule. The Hawks host Franklin at 7 p.m. this Friday. They already own wins over Plainfield and Martinsville.
“Another amazing stop on fourth and 1 by the Hawks’ D put the nail in the coffin and gave the Hawks a big conference win,” said Enright.
For Perry, wide receiver Jonathan Hunter scored on a 44-yard end around and senior kicker Anabelle Cloyd kicked the conversion two minutes before intermission.
And that was it until DC’s late outburst.
The Falcons did everything but win as they fell to 1-5, 2-6. The defense, led by senior middle linebacker Jacob McClure, forced a field-goal attempt that missed. They recovered three fumbles. But DC won the game.
“The kids fought hard for 48 minutes,” said coach Brett Cooper, whose Falcons stunned the visiting Hawks 15-14 last year. “We made some plays, but we didn’t make the big plays when we needed to. We missed a couple tackles late. Not a good night to get on the right side of the scoreboard.
“You’d think at some point one of these would go our way – the law of averages.”
Nobody averaged much on Friday.
Aguirre led DC with 60 yards on eight rushes, and N’Po Dodo added 48 as the Hawks totaled 181 rushing yards. Quarterback Bo Polston completed just three of 10 passes for 49 yards.
Hunter and Andy Warren rushed for 46 yards each for the Falcons, but DC held the visitors to 99 yards on the ground. Zupan was 7-17-1 for 72 yards.
“With multiple stops on fourth down, the Hawks’ defense put the finishing touches on another comeback win,” Enright said. “They were led by a stout defensive front in MJ Campbell, Javian Jones, Aaron Davis, Jalyn Shanks and Brycen Bonawitt. Halbert Aguirre and Stephen Oyatayo were physical all night and Breydon LaFollette, Mykul Campbell, Kas Hicks and Chris Richmond locked down the back end as the entire defense shut Perry down the entire second half.”
The Falcons conclude their regular season by hosting Mooresville at 7 p.m. Friday.