Floyd Central refused to give the football back to Jeffersonville for the final possession on Friday night. The Highlanders couldn’t hold their breath any longer.
Protecting a two-point lead, Floyd Central chewed up the final 4:24 with its ball-control running game and hung on for a 30-28 victory at Blair Field, which has become Wiegleb Stadium East for the Highlanders as they posted their fourth straight road win in the series.
The Highlanders could not afford to let Jeffersonville quarterback Cam Northern touch the football one last time. Northern completed all eight of his passes in the second half and threw two touchdowns as Jeffersonville (2-3, 1-2 in the Hoosier Hills Conference) attempted to rally from a 23-7 halftime deficit.
Floyd Central (4-1 with four straight wins and 3-0 atop the HHC) couldn’t afford to play defense any more.
“We had a difficult time guarding them all over the field,” Floyd coach Brian Glesing said. “We hung on. Thank goodness we didn’t give the ball back to them because it could have been ugly. If we punt the ball back to them. … Oh my. We survived at the end.”
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Jeffersonville never recovered from a startling start. On the first play of the game, the shotgun snap sailed over the head of Northern, who recovered the loose ball in the end zone for a Floyd safety in only 12 seconds.
Three plays later, the Highlanders took advantage of the possession following the free kick. Blake Carl executed a halfback pass to perfection, hitting Paden Pikey down the right sideline for a 33-yard touchdown and a 9-0 lead with only 100 seconds off the clock.
The Red Devils regained their composure when Brandon Coleman returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown midway through the first quarter, but the Highlanders dominated the rest of the half. Brandon Striegel romped to the end zone from 11 yards for a 16-7 lead, and Kyle Peters added a two-yard quarterback keeper with 28 seconds left for a 23-7 advantage at intermission.
Floyd Central’s pass defense was smothering in the first half. Northern, forced to scramble as Floyd’s secondary took away his primary options, was sacked three times and threw an interception. Jeffersonville totaled only 31 yards.
“It took too long to get going,” Jeffersonville interim coach Alfonzo Browning said. “We caught a rhythm in the second half. It’s just hard to put yourself in a hole and get back. We just came up short again.”
Jeffersonville rallied as Northern directed a relentless comeback. He hit Isaiah Blanton for a 34-yard score, then bulled his way into the end zone on a 13-yard scramble late in the third quarter. He found Blanton again from 4 yards for the final score.
“We knew they would throw the ball all over the place,” Glesing said. “He has a rocket arm. That’s as good an arm since Gunner Kiel (from Columbus East) in this league. And he can run and scramble. So you’re in a quandary.”
Northern finished 10 of 12 for 151 yards.
Floyd Central spread out its offensive production, but the key was the play of sophomore backup quarterback Matt Weimer, who ran for 31 yards and converted a huge third down with a 14-yard naked bootleg during the final drive.
“We’re still not very smooth, but it’s a good win for our football team,” Glesing said.
Floyd Central’s victory set up a showdown with league power Columbus East for the conference lead next week.
Justin Sokeland can be contacted at email@example.com.
FC – Safety, Cam Northern tackled in end zone, 11:48; FC – Paden Pikey, 33 pass from Blake Carl (Antonio Villegas kick), 10:20; Jeff – Brandon Coleman, 68 punt return (Jordan Conn kick), 5:54; FC – Brandon Striegel, 11 run (Villegas kick), 7:43; FC – Kyle Peters, 2 run (Villegas kick), 0:28: Jeff – Isaiah Blanton, 34 pass from Northern (Conn kick), 5:58; FC – Colt May, 14 run (Villegas kick), 4:09; Jeff – Northern, 13 run (Conn kick), 2:36: Jeff – Blanton, 4 pass from Northern (Conn kick), 4:24