Senior staff writer
Beech Grove is witnessing a football resurgence that hasn’t been seen since the mid-1980s.
Earlier this season the Hornets honored their unbeaten 1985 team. And then at Friday’s homecoming game the Hornets came from behind for a stunning 28-21 triumph over Scecina to move 4-0 for the first time since 1989. All four wins have been against Indiana Crossroads Conference opponents.
“Homecoming and to be 4-0 ... this was a big win; it is very fitting,” fifth-year coach Mark Weller said. “This is a neat town. It’s a proud town that is very supportive. They have been really supportive of the football program.”
The homecoming hype may have overwhelmed the Hornets, who got off to a sluggish first half – losing three fumbles, including one after a completed pass to the 1-yard line when trailing 21-6.
“We came out flat in the first half,” Weller said.
The 3A No. 10 Hornets finally created an about-face with a six-play 61-yard drive topped off by quarterback Chase Andries’ 3-yard TD run and 2-point pass conversion to prime receiver Montrez Hearin to pull to 21-14 with 10 minutes, 34 seconds left in the game.
Three plays later, BG linebacker Nate Sanchez recovered a Crusader fumble to set up a dramatic 63-yard TD pass from Andries to Hearin. The 2-point conversion failed, but BG trailed only 21-20.
Then the Hornets’ vastly improved defense stepped up. Senior Anthony Hunter’s third-down quarterback sack forced the 2A No. 10 Crusaders to punt from midfield.
On the Hornets’ first play from the 12, Walter Ballinger burst through the defense for a game-winning 88-yard touchdown run, backed by a conversion pass from Andries to Hearin for the final 28-21 count with 3:51 to go.
Scecina reached BG’s 42-yard line but sophomore defensive end Isaiah Hulse sacked the quarterback for a 7-yard loss on second down. Two incomplete passes put the ball in the Hornets’ hands on downs.
“There really was no pressure, and no pressure on the defense,” Ballinger said. “We came back and did what we had to do.”
Andries completed 29-of-38 for 375 yards and two touchdowns, with Hearin catching 13 passes.
BG’s defense held Scecina to 159 yards of offense and kept its fourth straight opponent scoreless in the second half.
Hunter, Hulse, Ballinger Sanchez, seniors LaMonte Richardson and co-captain Shawn Goggins and 250-pound freshman Dallas Culpepper are the key defensive leaders.
“Our defense has molded its way around the way Goggins plays,” Weller said. “He’s all heart and typifies what our defense is all about. Those guys will scrap, fight and claw.”