Hounds Hang On to Top Trojans 20-14

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Hounds Hang On to Top Trojans 20-14

Senior running back Dylan Downing (2)

Senior running back Dylan Downing (2)

Senior running back Dylan Downing (2)

Senior running back Dylan Downing (2)

Ashwin Prasad

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A tight, intense matchup between bitter rivals CHS and Center Grove came down to the very last possession.

It only lasted one play.

The Hounds (2-1) forced a fumble from dynamic Center Grove quarterback and sophomore Tayven Jackson with 1:30 to go, sealing a second half shutout to prevail 20-14. Senior running back Dylan Downing scored two first-half touchdowns, and senior safety Garrett Sharp and senior linebacker Ty Wise spearheaded a stout Hounds defense which sacked Jackson four times, limited him to 47 passing yards, and forced three turnovers.

“I’m not sure the game ever really swung in our favor,” head coach John Hebert said. “We made mistakes in the first half, and we should’ve been up by 14, we fumbled, we gave up a big run. If anything, I think it was our offense on the second to last possession, getting a few first downs, moving the ball, taking time off the clock, and our defense was outstanding all night.

The Hounds held a narrow 17-14 lead after an entertaining, topsy-turvy first half. Center Grove (0-3) committed turnovers on consecutive possessions; the second mistake was a low snap on a 4th down which Sharp pounced on at the Center Grove 17. The Hounds nearly repaid the favor after junior wide receiver Colton Parker inadvertently ran into a snap on third and goal, but senior quarterback Gabe Quigley covered up the loose ball, allowing the Hounds to escape with a field goal.

The Trojans rallied immediately. Jackson deftly fooled the defense by faking a handoff, and sophomore Daniel Weems took advantage and charged for a 59 yard gain to the Carmel 5.  Two plays later, and on the first play of the second quarter, Jackson sneaked over the goal line to give the Trojans a 7-3 lead.

The Hounds turned to their workhorse to overcome the deficit. Downing returned the kickoff 17 yards, then stiff-armed a tackler for a 27 yard rumble to set up the Hounds in opposing territory. Sophomore quarterback Zach Osborne connected with junior wide receiver Baron Smith for a 20 yard gain to mitigate a holding penalty, and Downing finished off the drive by plowing into the end zone from six yards out. On the next possession, Downing burst through a gap on the right side for another 25 yard gain. A nifty spin move by sophomore running back J.D. Rogers put the Hounds in goal-to-go range, and senior right tackle Thor Kracht powered through multiple defenders, allowing Downing to plunge in from four yards.

After forcing a punt, the Hounds were poised to mount another backbreaking, end-of-half drive and take the lead over two touchdowns, but junior running back Zach White fumbled, and momentum shifted yet again. Jackson rolled right and found his tight end to convert a third down, and scored a second touchdown via quarterback sneak on the last play of the half.

“We knew Center Grove wasn’t going to quit. There’s something extra they have for Carmel, and we feel the same way about them,” Hebert said. “They are always resilient, and their defensive coordinator Chad Daniels is one of the best anywhere. We knew we had our hands full.”

The game completely changed complexion in the second half as the Hounds rebuffed multiple threatening Center Grove possessions. Junior linebacker Andrew Turvy and Sharp stuffed the Trojans on third and fourth-and-one from the Carmel 30 on the first drive. The second drive was an 8 minute, 17-play struggle that once again saw the Trojans reach the Carmel 28. This time, a crucial holding penalty and a sack by senior lineman Ty Bryant snuffed out the opportunity and forced a punt with 6:33 to go.

After exchanging punts, the Hounds relied on Downing to milk the remaining five minutes of the clock and close out the game. Quigley chipped in an 18 yard scramble, and the Trojans committed a pivotal facemask penalty to gift the Hounds a first down at the Center Grove 14. By the time junior Spencer Hanna nailed his second field goal of the night, Center Grove had used up all of their timeouts, and the finish line was in sight.

NEXT WEEK

CHS travels to Pike High School to take on the Red Devils (0-3), who narrowly lost to Ben Davis 34-35.

EXTRA POINTS

Hanna booted three consecutive touchbacks on kickoffs and continued his perfect kicking performance this season.

CHS had been 0-4 against Center Grove in regular season play under Hebert. However, the Hounds knocked off the Trojans to capture the 2016 State Championship, Carmel’s most recent triumph.

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