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Whiteland defense stops Highlanders

November 13, 2013
The Floyd Central Highlanders ran into a wall of blue Friday night at Whiteland, seeing their season come to a sudden end against the Warriors in a 41-20 loss. It was obvious Whiteland had figured out Floyd Central's ground game and quickly worked to shut it down.

Floyd Central's Trevor Smith, right, has a near interception on this play as he breaks up a Whiteland pass to Gabe Clippert. Photos by Wade Bell
"They had a plan," Floyd Central coach Brian Glesing said. "There's a lot of things we did right. We just couldn't get an established running game going. The factor is because of them. They're pretty good."

Floyd Central held the Warriors to just five plays on their first possession, the Highlander defense forcing Whiteland to turn the ball over on downs.

The Highlanders took over at the 50-yard line and marched downfield. Floyd Central used two pass plays and Gaige Klingsmith ran two plays on the ground to the 28-yard line. On the next play, Colton Kimm threw to Klingsmith and the Highlanders were on the board with a 6-0 lead.

Whiteland answered immediately with a 73-yard kickoff return from Isaiah Calloway to the 9-yard line. The Warriors just needed one play to score, with Jeffery Wooten running into the end zone. Freshman Jacob Ballain added the extra point, and the Warriors had a 7-6 edge, the score at the end of one quarter.

The Warriors kept the time of possession in their favor through most of the second period but had to settle for a 22-yard field goal from Ballain.

Whiteland's defense kept the Highlanders stymied on their next possession and forced Floyd Central to kick. The snap, however, went high over punter Ryan Lenz's head and gave the Warriors the ball on Floyd Central's own 18-yard line. On the next play, Shaw Cloud ran into the end zone, and Ballain's extra point made it a 17-6 ballgame with 3:37 left in the half.

The Whiteland defense hunted down Floyd Central's Gaige Klingsmith (34) all night in the Warriors' 41-20 sectional championship win over the Highlanders Friday.
Floyd Central fought back to keep itself in the game. After struggling to punch his way through Whiteland's defensive line, Klingsmith finally found a hole to go through, scoring on a 37-yard run. Brandon Stout threw to Adam Wallace for the two-point conversion, and the Highlanders had cut their deficit to three, 17-14.

Whiteland, however, used the last three minutes of the half to put Ballain in field goal range. The freshman punched the ball through the uprights with one second left from 22 yards out, extending the Warriors' advantage to 20-14 at halftime.

"The first half, we played great defensively," Glesing said. "We held them to a couple of field goals down there in the red zone. We gave up the big play on the kickoff, which hurt us. The first half, I thought we played real good defensively against that spread offense they've got."

Floyd Central took the ball to start the second half. The Highlanders finally found a way through the Whiteland defense, and Gabriel Kennedy took the ball to the 2-yard line. Kennedy got the next call, tying the game at 20.

Whiteland had another big kickoff return to the Floyd Central 20-yard line. The Warriors needed just two more plays to get into the end zone again. Ballain got the extra-point, giving Whiteland a 27-20 lead after three quarters.

"We didn't cover the kickoff," Glesing said. "It was just one of those things where we had the momentum and then we didn't have it. I don't know the answer to that."

The fourth period belonged to the Warriors. Whiteland moved the ball to the 3-yard line, and Donnie Richard punched it in for the touchdown. Floyd Central came up six inches short of a first down on fourth-and-3 on the next possession as the Highlanders were forced to give up the ball.

Whiteland needed just two plays, as Cloud got his second touchdown of the night on a 37-yard run. Ballain kept his extra-point and field goal attempts perfect, booting the ball through the uprights for a 41-20 lead.

The Highlanders failed to score on their last possession, and the Warriors took a knee, running out the clock to win the sectional championship.

"Scheme-wise, they got us in a couple of bad positions a couple of times, but that's football," Glesing said. "Like I said the first half, defensively, I thought we did a heck of a job and frustrated them a little bit."

Glesing said if his team had stopped Whiteland's two big kickoff returns, it might have changed the complexity of the game.

"It makes them go the field," the Floyd Central coach said. "They had two short drives. I can't say, but it didn't help us. We had been covering kicks pretty good all year. For whatever reason, we didn't tonight."

The Highlanders finished with 221 yards of offense, running 34 times for 109 yards, just 3.2 yards a carry, a season low. Kimm completed nine of his 14 pass attempts for Floyd Central's 112 yards in the air. Klingsmith was held to just 58 yards rushing on 22 carries and caught one pass for 28 yards. Stout caught five passes for 64 yards. On third down conversions, the Highlanders were just two of 11.

On defense, Lucas Quinkert had seven tackles, and Stout had six. Garry Posey and Chase Herron had five tackles each.

Whiteland carried the ball 40 times for 273 yards and completed three of 10 passes for 64 yards, for a total of 337 yards of offense. The biggest stat was in yards on kickoff returns, with Whiteland getting 260 to Floyd Central's 129.

The Highlanders finish the season with a record of 8-3.

"A lot of people would love to have 8-3," Glesing said. "If you would have asked me at the beginning of the year, if we would finish 8-3 and be sectional runner-up, I might have said, 'I'll take it.' It wasn't pretty last year. Our kids fought and we're here. We got to the final game and, hopefully, our goal is to win it next year."

The Highlanders, however, have a lot of shoes to fill, with 28 seniors graduating.

"We'll find a way, somehow, someway," Glesing said. "It's going to be tough, but we'll find a way. Don't worry. Those young kids will work hard and get it done. I have confidence in them."


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