October 23, 2013The Floyd Central Highlanders football team secured a second-place finish in the Hoosier Hills Conference Friday night after silencing the host New Albany Bulldogs in a 35-34 nailbiter that came down to the last play.
Last year, it was just the opposite with the Highlanders grimacing over a one-point loss at home.
"Three hundred sixty-five days ago the emotions were just the opposite," said Floyd Central coach Brian Glesing as his team celebrated. "That's the way this game is. One point again. What are the chances of that happening?"
At first, it looked like the Highlanders were going to run away with the game. Senior Nick Uhl delivered the first touchdown on a 31-yard run up the middle of the field. New Albany later got part of that back when Vincent Falcone booted a 30-yard field goal, closing the Bulldogs deficit to four.
Gaige Klingsmith moved the Highlanders downfield on their next possession. Colton Kimm threw to Jacob Trudeau on the next play to the 10-yard line. Klingsmith got the call again and carried into the end zone, and Ryan Lenz got the extra point for a 14-3 Floyd Central lead after one quarter.
The Bulldogs gave up the ball to the Highlanders on their next possession. That set up Floyd Central's next touchdown as the Highlanders ran the ball on 8 of 9 plays down to the five-yard line. Garry Posey took the ball in for Floyd Central's third touchdown, and Lenz's kick put the Highlanders up 21-3.
But New Albany was not about to be undone so quickly. The Bulldogs closed the gap on their next possession when Jeffontae McLain bumped and spun his way off a half-dozen Floyd Central tackles for a 31-yard touchdown, closing the lead to 21-10. After Floyd Central was forced to give up the ball on its next possession, the Bulldogs ran just four plays, the last one seeing Tuwan Payton running 64 yards to score as the gap closed to 21-16. Floyd Central moved the ball to the 19-yard line before the half into field-goal range. Lenz saw his kick miss the goal posts, however, leaving the score 21-16 at halftime.
The Highlanders gave themselves some breathing room in the third on their first possession of the second half when Brandon Stout threw to Posey on a 12-yard strike. Floyd Central went for the conversion but came up short, leaving the score 27-16.
New Albany then launched a counter-offensive. The Bulldogs ran a ground attack and, with 2:46 left in the third, Zach Donen scored from a yard out and Payton got the conversion, closing the gap to three, 27-24, after three periods.
New Albany had run a hurry-up offense in the last part of the third and continued to start the fourth. A half-minute into the period, Donen kept the ball for himself to score on a 31-yard run Falcone split the uprights, putting New Albany out in front 31-27.
Floyd Central gambled on fourth down and four on the 44-yard line and came up short, giving the ball back to the Bulldogs. That led to a Falcone field goal from 36 yards as New Albany went up 34-27 with 6:31 to go in the game.
Brennan Schramke returned the ball out to the Floyd Central 25-yard line. Later, on third-and-10, Colton Kimm hit Adam Wallace for a 34-yard gainer and a first down. Klingsmith did rest of the work, carrying the ball on the next six plays, going in to score on a 4-yard run with 1:46 left. Glesing then had Klingsmith go for two. The Floyd Central junior broke through the New Albany defense on the conversion, and Floyd had a 35-34 lead.
"Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't," Glesing said. "It just so happened to work this time. It was the same thing last year. We went for two in overtime and didn't make it."
"We made one little adjustment down there where we scored inside the red zone, where we hit the play a little bit wider than we had been hitting it," he said. "Gaige did a heck of a job getting in."
But New Albany had a lot of time left and used it efficiently with a ground and air attack and the hurry-up offense used earlier. After getting to the Highlanders' 27-yard line, the Bulldogs called timeout with :20.7 left. New Albany then misfired on two pass attempts then sent in Falcone for a 44-yard field-goal attempt.
"Our defense made some big stops at the end," Glesing said. "They made the stop when we needed it and forced a long field goal. They've got a great kicker. Once he came out to kick, I thought, 'Man, we're beat'."
Falcone got the kick off and the ball had plenty of distance. Both New Albany and the Highlanders watched as the ball went wide left. Time ran out and Floyd had the one-point win.
"I'm happy for our seniors," Glesing said. "I'm happy for our kids. We were 2-8 last year, and we made a lot of changes in our program but the one thing that stayed constant is our toughness. Our kids are tough. They love running the football. We've got a quarterback that can throw it."
The Highlanders finished with 494 yards of offense, running 49 plays on the ground for 277 yards rushing and completed 13 of 19 passes for 217 yards. Klingsmith carried 35 times for 160 yards, and Uhl had seven carries for 110 yards rushing. Stout had three catches for 59 yards, and Trevor Smith caught three for 57 yards. Austin Carl had three catches for 36 yards, and Wallace had a catch for 34 yards. On defense, Trudeau had 12 tackles and Elijah Miller had seven. Evan Rue, Chase Herron, and Logan Hanger had five tackles each.
"Colton is a heck of a leader and a heck of a football player," Glesing said. "He didn't have any doubts. I heard him on the sidelines when it was looking bleak. He had it under control."
New Albany finished with 326 yards of offense, carrying 39 times for 293 yards rushing and completing 4 of 7 passes for 33 yards in the air.
The Highlanders have this week off on a bye week in the sectional then will meet Jennings County in their first game of the tournament.
"Jennings gets to do the same, so we're all going to get healed up a little bit," Glesing said. "We've worked these kids out pretty hard the last two weeks because it's fall break for us. But we've got some guys banged up. We had two starters out. (Lukas) Quinkert and (Gabriel) Kennedy were both out tonight, so we get them back for the playoffs in two weeks. We've got two weeks to prepare for Jennings. It's tough to beat a team twice."