Big drives win big games.
That was the case Friday night as Tri-Central and Sheridan battled down to the wire in a Class A Sectional 36 title game that grew tighter as the night wore on.
Trailing by two scores, 28-14, at the start of the third quarter, the Trojans opened the second half with a massive drive that chewed more than eight minutes off the game clock and resulted in a Martavius Hunt two-yard touchdown run and TC looking at a mere 28-21 deficit with 12 minutes to play.
The Blackhawks, however, mounted an epic drive of their own stretching from the final minutes of the third quarter into much of the fourth, culminating with a 26-yard Mike Burnell field goal grazing just over the crossbar to make it a ten-point game, 31-21, with 3:51 remaining.
Tri-Central responded with a quick score to make it 31-28 at 2:52 when Trojan quarterback Cody Howell found A.J. Tentler on a 60-yard touchdown strike.
Sheridan recovered the Trojans’ ensuing onside kick and marched 52 yards in the game’s final minutes, adding a touchdown with :21 showing as Tri-Central fell, 38-28.
“We came out and did exactly what we wanted to do,” TC coach George Gilbert said of the Trojans 16-play, 77-yard drive to open the second half. “Everything was clicking. We had everything rolling. We just couldn’t finish. That’s a testament to Sheridan. They came out and hit us. They didn’t hit us like that the first time around.”
The Blackhawks, which handed TC (10-2) its only other loss of the season in a 22-14 Week 9 setback at Lucas Oil Stadium, jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead after starting its first three drives with excellent field position.
On its opening drive, Sheridan (8-4) recovered Tri-Central’s onside kick at its own 46 and needed just seven plays for Austin Hoover to find paydirt from 20 yards out.
“That wasn’t supposed to happen,” Gilbert said of the opening kickoff. “It was a mistake. No way am I going to start a game against a juggernaut like Sheridan and give them half a field to run.”
A TC punt following a quick three-and-out landed the Blackhawks at midfield but QB Sam Zachery was intercepted by TC linebacker Garrett Kelley. Zachery found redemption three plays later, intercepting Howell’s pass attempt and returning it to the one-yard line, which led to Tyler Callahan’s TD scamper on the next play.
Martavius Hunt made it a one-score game with a two-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, but the Blackhawks responded with two touchdowns from Hoover, including a 73-yard dash, as Sheridan went up 28-7.
Hoover gashed the Trojans on the ground, finishing the game with 266 yards and four touchdowns on 41 carries.
“That guy was on fire,” Gilbert said. “They blocked well for him. They’ve got big seniors and, once again, they brought it. They found our weaknesses and exploited them.”
Bryce Dowell grabbed a 21-yard TD pass from Howell near the end of the half for the 28-14 score at intermission.
After TC’s opening drive of the second half, the Trojans recovered the ensuing kickoff but couldn’t capitalize. Gilbert saw that possession as a difference maker.
“We recover that kick and don’t convert, that’s huge,” Gilbert said. “We went three-and-out in that situation. We get that and we’ve got them on the run. We tie the score and it’s a shootout.”
Hunt finished with 36 yards and two scores in his final performance. Hunt, along with Tentler and Austin Horn, are the only seniors that TC will lose to graduation.
“Depending on how we look at it, we’ve got nothing but great things ahead,” Gilbert said. “Our three seniors played extremely hard [Friday] night, no doubt. We’re losing two great runners in Hunt and Horn, but we’ve got guys coming up who are ready.”
Blackhawks put game on ice with long, late drive.
Big drives win big games.
Eastern boys track claims first sectional title since 1998
The boys track and field coach at Eastern High School from 1987 until last season, Paul Nicholson’s parting message to his team was simple: “Don’t deny the gift.”
That motto left such a lasting impression on the Comets’ returning athletes that they had it screen printed on their 2013 season T-shirts.
With Nicholson in attendance to celebrate with them, new coach Austin Roark and the Comets outlasted host Kokomo to win their first sectional title since 1998 Thursday night, topping the Wildkats by 3.5 points, 124.5-121.
Eastern, Kokomo favored in boys track sectional
Some of the names and faces have changed, but the plot remains much the same.
The Kokomo boys track and field sectional, much like last year, will likely be a two-horse race between the host and three-time defending champion Wildkats and Eastern, a team looking to break through and win its first sectional title since 1998.
Cole to jump at Miami University
Eastern athlete Grant Cole has only been a long jumper for two seasons, but being turned on to the event late in his career has landed him a scholarship to Miami University.
Comets roar to sectional title
As the old adage goes, it’s harder stay on top than it is to reach the top.
Eastern’s girls track and field team entered the 2012 postseason hoping to put in a strong enough effort to claim the program’s first sectional title.
Having done so, the Comets entered Tuesday’s postseason opener — the Madison-Grant Sectional — with a much larger bull’s-eye on their backs than in previous years.
Eastern proved up to the challenge, scoring a landslide victory to repeat as sectional champions with 125 points.
Dexter leaving Eastern
Eastern girls basketball coach Jeremy Dexter has stepped down from the Comet program after accepting the AD job at Churubusco last week. Churubusco is in Whitley County about 15 minutes west of Fort Wayne.
Dexter led the Comets to a Class 2A state runner-up finish this past season.
Hunter edges Shrout in Thunder Car thriller
Two drivers who are no strangers to Victory Lane returned there Sunday night at the Kokomo Speedway. Meanwhile, a third driver scored just the second feature win of his career at the local oval to highlight the racing action.
Chris Hunter, the winningest Thunder Car driver in the history of the local oval, ground out a gritty win over defending track champion Jason Shrout to highlight the chilly night.
Girls track sectional is tonight
Eastern’s girls track and field team is ready to chase some more championship hardware.
Two weeks ago, the Comets won their fourth straight Howard County meet. Last week, they won their fourth straight Mid-Indiana Conference meet. Now, the postseason is here, with the Madison-Grant Sectional tonight.
“We’re looking forward to taking the next step,” Eastern coach Michael Goodspeed said.
Athlete of the week
Oyler led the way as Class 2A No. 5-ranked Eastern beat Cass (4-3) and Hamilton Heights (5-4 in 12 innings) to move to 6-0 in the Mid-Indiana Conference with one league game remaining.
Page family bonds over martial arts
A mother and father to six children, Jason and Denise Page began to run into your typical challenges associated with such a large family back in 2008, once the oldest children reached an age where they started to have desires to be involved in sports and other extracurricular activities.
As the commitments started to pile up, it didn’t seem like there were enough hours in the day to accomplish all the pitstops and still have time left over to fellowship as a family.
Karate to the rescue.
Kats' Sebree to play for JC power Cochise
LaBradford Sebree is accustomed to winning.
Sebree was a three-year starter for Kokomo’s boys basketball team. He helped the Wildkats compile a 65-11 record (the seventh-best mark in Indiana over that stretch) with a Class 4A state runner-up finish in 2011.
The 6-foot-2 swingman hopes to keep on winning at the next level. He will play at Cochise College, a Division I junior college in Douglas, Ariz. Douglas is located in the southeast corner of the state.
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