Nick LePage | Staff Writer
The Center Grove Trojans (3-2) defeated the North Central Panthers(3-2) by a score of 24-7 to win the first of back-to-back road games.
After receiving the kickoff to start the game, the Trojans spent much of the first quarter gradually moving down the field. It was not until the 6:41 mark that the Trojans ended their first drive with a rushing touchdown from freshman Carson Steele.
The Trojans defense saw something quite different than they have from any other team this season, as the North Central offense went to the passing game often. However, the Trojan defense was ready for the change in strategy.
“We just had to fly off the line and keep the quarterback contained in the pocket,” said senior defensive lineman Cole Williams.
North Central did, however, see some success in the air, including a 28-yard pass on third down to put the Panthers on the goal line. The offense finished the drive with a two-yard rushing touchdown from senior running back George Stokes to even the score 7-7. This would be the only time the Panthers reached the end zone.
The Trojans held the Panthers scoreless the remainder of the game and saw the majority of their scoring in the second quarter. The first scoring play of the second quarter came on a touchdown pass from junior quarterback Jackson Moore to junior receiver Jacob Keith. The highlight-reel catch over North Central cornerback and Iowa football commit D.J. Johnson increased the Trojan lead 14-7.
The offense wasn’t the only part of the team to strike big in the second quarter.
A forced fumble by senior Cole Williams gave the Trojans their first such turnover of the year, as well as the ball in the redzone. The very next play, Steele ran the ball in for his second touchdown of the evening, giving the Trojans a 21-7 lead.
After scoring, a penalty on the Trojans kicking team gave North Central the ball on their 38-yard line to begin the drive. The Trojans defense came up big once again, stopping a 4th-and-9 pass attempt to regain possession.
With time ticking off the clock in the first half, the Trojans offense faced 4th and 17. The field goal unit was brought out, but the 42-yard attempt came up short, giving North Central a last chance to score in the half.
The defense managed to prevent the Panthers from doing any damage, but the end of the half saw some craziness. A mishandled punt return with 14 seconds left resulted in a North Central offensive possession on the CG 11-yard line. The opportunity for North Central came to an end when Lucas Hunter (‘19) pounced on a fumbled snap, keeping the score at 21-7.
The third quarter went back and forth between the two teams, but saw a shift as time was winding down. With 6:19 remaining in the quarter, North Central succeeded on back-to-back fourth down attempts to eventually come within ten yards of the end zone. This was no problem for the Trojan defense, as they stuffed the rushing attempt on 4th and 1 to end the third quarter.
“If they were to get a big play or a couple of yards, we would not get down on each other. We would clamp it down and stand our ground… defensively and offensively,” said senior linebacker A.J. Gin.
Much like the third quarter, the fourth saw 12 minutes of back-and-forth football. The offense left one last mark on a 44-yard field goal to send the Trojans home with a 24-7 win.
The Trojan victory comes just one week after falling to Ben Davis by the largest margin of the season. The loss propelled the team throughout the week’s practices.
“We learned from our mistakes last week and tried to fix them in film and in practice,” senior Austin Daming said.
The work put in by the Trojans during the week paid off Friday night.
The Trojans will face Lawrence Central at home next week.
Photos by Sophie Laque