Jeffersonville ran out of offensive bullets in its sectional championship shootout with Castle.
The No. 3 Knights, challenged by the visiting Red Devils (8-4) in an entertaining first half, dominated after intermission and cruised to a 50-29 win over Jeffersonville in the Class 5-A Sectional 8 final Friday night. Castle (12-0) will travel to No. 6 Center Grove (11-1 following a 42-7 win over Columbus North) for next week’s regional.
After causing some Castle angst, after making the Knights play from behind for the first time in nine weeks, the Devils brought blanks out of the locker room while Castle caught fire and ended the suspense with superiority, scoring four times without a Jeff response until it was too late.
Castle won its 10th sectional title and third in five years while ending Jeff’s bid for its first crown since 2007. If any Castle questions about its place in the 5-A elite were lingering after the first 24 minutes, they were dispelled in the next 24.
“Once they got up 14, they steamrolled us,” Jeffersonville coach Lonnie Oldham said. “They have a really good team.”
Castle quarterback Mitch Gilles was the star as he completed 11 of 16 for 186 yards. He was especially deadly in the second half, completing all four of his attempts for all of his three touchdowns.
Jeffersonville, ranked 10th in the state in scoring at 44.4 points per game, only scored twice in the final 37:45, and both came in the final three minutes with the outcome decided.
“We changed absolutely nothing,” Castle coach Doug Hurt said. “We kept everything in front of us and just played a little bit better. We eliminated some of the mistakes from the first half.”
Oldham promised to throw it 50 times if necessary and nearly kept that vow. Jeff quarterback Tyler Fridley was 30 of 45 for 236 yards but was picked off twice to offset his three touchdowns to Ricky Embry.
The shootout shots started spraying right away. Castle’s first drive, aided by two pass interference penalties, ended with a Gilles touchdown run, and Castle caught the Red Devils by surprise with a successful onside kick following that score.
Jeffersonville dodged that bullet when Finch fumbled the next play. But Castle linebacker Rayce Thornbury intercepted Fridley’s first deep pass over the middle and returned it 50 yards to put the Devils on the defensive once again.
Castle converted that turnover in two plays as Finch scored from the 1, giving the Knights comfortable control at 14-0.
That sense of ease didn’t last long. Jeffersonville came back with two straight scoring drives and put Castle in a hole for the first time since Week 3 of the regular season.
The Knights, up 14-8 and rattled at the challenge, had three penalties on their next possession and ended up punting from their own 1. The Devils took advantage of the short field as Fridley hit Dionte Allen for 15 yards before Allen scored on fourth down from the 1.
The Knights retook the lead just before halftime. Gilles hit Cameron Parus for 39 yards deep over the middle, and Finch scored from the 1. Gilles hit Jon-Marc Anderson for the two-pointer that gave the Knights a touchdown lead at intermission.
And there the Jeffersonville highlights ended.
Gilles’ first pass of the second half was a 41-yarder to Parus, and that opened the floodgates. Christian Peach scored from 7 yards to open a two-score edge, and Gilles fired a 13-yard TD pass to Anderson to cap the next series.
He added fourth-quarter scoring strikes to Joe Redburn (17 yards) and Anderson (15 yards).
Jeff added two late scores as Fridley found Embry twice.
C – Mitch Gilles 3 run (Caballero kick); C- Andrew Finch 1 run (Caballero kick); J – Ricky Embry 43 pass from Fridley (Dalton Adkins pass from Fridley); J – Dionte Allen 1 run (Fahuwu Momoh kick); C – Finch 1 run (Jon-Marc Anderson pass from Gilles); C – Christian Peach 7 run (Caballero kick); C – Anderson 13 pass from Gilles (Caballero kick); C – Joe Redburn 17 pass from Gilles (Caballero kick); C – Anderson 15 pass from Gilles (Caballero kick); J – Ricky Embry 20 pass from Fridley (Momoh kick); J – Embry 21 pass from Fridley (Momoh kick).