September 18, 2019For a while, it looked like the combination of a full moon and Friday the 13th was going to be a bad situation for the Floyd Central rivalry football game with New Albany at Ron Weigleb Stadium. After shaking off a rough first quarter, the Highlanders rallied back with Wenkers Wright scoring five touchdowns to help Floyd Central keep the rusty anchor trophy with a 50-14 final score.
"This is huge," said Floyd Central coach James Bragg. "It's a rivalry game. We got the anchor back. It's the fourth year in a row we've had this trophy on our side. You beat the archrival down there in the valley. You put 50 points up. Offensively, we finally started clicking to get over that hump."
Floyd Central's Tristan Polk, right, fires a pass to teammate Kaleb Quenichet (front) in the second half of the Highlanders' 50-14 comeback win over county rival New Albany. Photos By Wade Bell
For the first 12 minutes, the Floyd Central end of the stands didn't get a whole lot to cheer about. The Highlanders had to give the ball up on downs on their first possession after seven plays. New Albany used a dozen plays for its first score as Myles Johnson ran the ball in from 16 yards out. Malachai Peters got the extra point and New Albany had a 7-0 lead.
Colin Cummins put the Highlanders in good field position to start their next possession running out to the 40. Wright got three yards on the next play, but Floyd Central had consecutive passes go incomplete, giving the ball back to the Bulldogs, punting to the 1.
Johnson ran two plays out to the 8. On the next play, Johnson got the call again but this time broke through the Highlanders' defense for 92 yards and seven more points.
"Down 14, we could have hit the panic button but we didn't," said Bragg. "We stayed the course."
The Highlanders rumbled to the end zone twice in the second quarter. The New Albany defense focused on Wright through the first 24 minutes, so Bragg changed up the offense, going to the air. The Highlanders first blocked a New Albany punt, putting the ball on the Bulldogs' 14. Floyd Central quarterback Tristan Polk then faked out the New Albany line as Wright went right. Polk hesitated long enough to see daylight on the left side and ran the ball into the end zone for six. Cole Hussung added the extra point, and the Highlanders were on the board.
After forcing the Bulldogs to give up the ball on their next possession, Floyd Central used a combination of running and passing plays to move the ball down-field. With just over three minutes to go in the half, and the ball on the Bulldogs' 41, Wright broke loose from the New Albany defense and ran for his first touchdown of the night. The Bulldogs, however, got a hand up on Hussung's extra-point attempt with a block, and New Albany had a one-point edge, 14-13.
With time ticking away near the end of the second quarter, New Albany was forced to give the ball away on its next possession. The Highlanders took over near midfield, and Polk found receivers on three passes. Wright ran the ball to the 19 and, from there, Hussung put three more on the board with a field goal, and Floyd had a 16-14 edge going to the locker room at halftime.
Bragg said Hussung's blocked field-goal attempt actually worked in their favor.
"We've been struggling in the field goal team," he said. "Our blocking hasn't been great, and that one all of a sudden just changed the game. We took a timeout and we fixed that scheme, and they bought in and we turned it around."
New Albany took the ball to begin the second half but managed only to get to midfield. Floyd Central took over on its own 17 to begin its next possession but needed just one play. Wright bounced his way through a host of New Albany defenders then saw daylight for an 83-yard touchdown run for a 23-14 advantage.
"We've got them on the run," Bragg told his team during a Bulldog timeout.
After a New Albany three-and-out, the Highlanders needed two plays on their next possession with Wright scoring on a 45-yard run, his third touchdown of the night. From there, the Highlanders' defense kept the Bulldogs out of the end zone. Polk later threw to Landon Deweese for a score. Wright followed up with two more TDs with runs of 45 and 60 yards, and the Highlanders went on for the 50-14 shellacking.
The Floyd Central Highlanders hoist the Rusty Anchor trophy after coming back from a two-touchdown deficit to top county rival New Albany 50-14 Friday night.
"This is a big one for us," Bragg said. "It's awesome. Anytime that you can beat the team in the valley down there it's huge … The big thing is we came together as a group. Our passing game picked up. I think we had one touchdown pass tonight. We had two that we dropped and two where we were in the end zone."
Wright carried the ball 18 times for the Highlanders for 346 yards rushing. The Highlanders threw the ball 19 times, completing eight for 105 yards.
"He's a dude," Bragg said of Wright. "Everybody knows it. We know if we get a crease, he can go 99 (yards) real quick, and he had a lot."
"We did a lot of motion in the game to see how they would adjust," he said. "Sometimes you have to throw the game plan out and go back to the bread and butter that you want. So, we ran a lot of inside zone like we normally do. We got Wenkers rolling and then, all of a sudden, our passing game came together. It's something we've been practicing for a couple of weeks. When we can throw the ball well, it opens up more lanes for the running game and that's what happened tonight."
Myles Johnson led the Bulldogs with 17 carries for 154 yards, and Kyondre Winford added 84 yards on 15 carries. New Albany connected on just five pass attempts on 21 tries for 55 yards.
"This is huge for us moving forward," said Bragg. "Plus, always looking forward a little bit, we're going to see these guys in the sectional. We know we will. So, anytime we can have some confidence moving forward it's awesome."
New Albany 14 0 0 0 – 14
Floyd Central 0 16 20 14 – 50
NA – Dejon Winburn 16 pass from Kyondre Windord (Malachai Peters kick); NA – Myles Winford 92 run (Peters kick); FC – Tristan Polk 14 run (Cole Hussung kick); FC – Wenkers Wright 41 run (kick blocked); FC – Hussung 49 FG; FC – Wright 83 run (Hussung kick); FC – Wright 45 run (conversion failed); FC – Travon Henderson 46 pass from Polk (Hussung kick); FC – Wright 45 run (Hussung kick); FC – Wright 60 run (Hussung kick).