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Floyd Central's Kaleb Quenichet, foreground, pushes for a first down before being knocked down by Bedford's Derek Hutchens in the second half. Photo By Wade Bell

Highlanders soak Bedford 29-21

October 16, 2019
Friday night was senior night at Floyd Central for the football game against visiting Bedford North Lawrence, and Mother Nature decided to join the party bringing rain, wind and a big temperature drop to put a big chill on the festivities.

On the field, it was a night of back and forth between the two Hoosier Hills Conference teams until the Highlanders finally pulled ahead for a 29-21 win.

"We knew the weather would come in tonight, and we knew that would hurt us because we like to throw the ball more," said Floyd Central coach James Bragg. "We were talking, and we hadn't even practiced in the rain. It's been so dry in the area that this is the first shot of rain most of the teams have had around here this year."

BNL took the ball first and, just over three minutes into the game, the Stars turned the ball over on their own 15-yard line. Floyd Central quarterback Tristan Polk carried the ball down to the 2-yard-line on the next play. Wenkers Wright got the call and ran the ball in for six with the touchdown. Cole Hussung got the extra-point, and the Highlanders had a 7-0 lead.

BNL was forced to give up the ball to the Highlanders on its next possession, and Floyd Central moved down to the BNL 5-yard line. Floyd Central then had two bad snaps push the ball back to the 22, forcing the Highlanders to give the ball up on downs. BNL had one of its biggest plays of the game as Dalton Nikirk threw a bomb to Derek Hutchens to the Floyd Central 16. However, the period ended with the Highlanders leading 7-0.

BNL got on the board early in the second quarter. Nikirk threw to Tabin Stillion to score, and Ethan Baer punched through the extra point for a 7-all tie midway through the period.

The sky then unloaded with heavier rain, strong winds and the temperature dropping like a rock in a well. Floyd Central worked the ball to the 5 again, and Landon Deweese carried the ball in for six more points. This time, however, Hussung had his extra-point attempt go right, leaving the score at 13-7.

Both teams gave up the ball on their next possessions, but the Highlanders suffered another blow when their fourth-down snap went high over Hussung's head. Hussung nearly took a safety, briefly running into the end zone but got back out to the 1-yard line before being hit. Nikirk ran a keeper on the next play into the end zone. Baer got his second extra point, and BNL took a 14-13 edge.

With the clock clicking down to halftime, the Highlanders ran a series of quick plays going to the air as the Stars continued to focus their attention on Wright. With less than a minute to go, Polk hit Calvin Brown on a 31-yard pass play for six more. This time, Hussung put the ball through the uprights, and Floyd took a 19-14 lead to the locker room at halftime.

Bragg was happy to see the team's passing game working after BNL slowed down the Highlanders' running game.

"Everybody knows who Wenkers Wright is," said the Floyd Central coach. "Everybody knows who Kaleb Quinichet is. They did a great job of containing those guys, but we had some other guys that stepped up tonight. Landon Deweese did a great job. Calvin Brown did a good job running the ball for us and, of course, Tristan Polk early in the first half with his read-option stuff and being able to run the ball around the edge."

Floyd Central started on its own 40 to begin the third period, but two big penalties pushed the Highlanders back against the wall and eventually turned possession over to BNL. Nikirk found Skyler Bates to move the ball to the Floyd Central 38. Bates got the call on a ground play and ran the 38 yards to score for a 21-19 BNL lead.

Colin Cummins had a big return to set up Floyd Central's next possession. On fourth down, the Highlanders went for a tough 27-yard field goal from the left hash mark as the wind and rain picked up. Hussung, however, found his mark on the kick and got three to put Floyd Central back in front, 22-21, with 51.5 seconds left in the period.

"It was difficult," said Hussung. "If I would have hooked it, it would have gone right."

"There was a poor angle on that," said Bragg. "We were driving and, all of a sudden, we stuttered and we had penalties. Bedford shut us down on the inside run game. So, he gets out there and puts it through the uprights and that put us ahead. That was huge and then we tacked one on later."

As conditions worsened, both teams struggled and BNL had to give up the ball without any points, leaving the Highlanders in good field position. With the ball on the Floyd Central 45-yard line, Wright took the ball, found daylight and went off to the races for a 55-yard touchdown run. Hussung put the ball through the uprights, and Floyd Central had a 29-21 lead after three quarters.

Early in the fourth quarter, with Floyd Central in possession, Polk was hit hard and had to be helped to the bench. The Floyd Central defense had a big fourth-and-short stop as the Stars desperately moved the ball downfield.

Rafe Swearengin took over as QB and ran the next several plays.

With the ball on the 13-yard line on fourth down, the Highlanders had another bad snap that gave the ball back to the Stars. BNL took the ball to the air but, on fourth down, the Highlanders got a hand on a Hutchens pass to knock it down. Floyd Central fumbled on its first play with the Stars recovering and getting new life with 1:42 to go. The Highlanders' defense again stopped BNL on fourth down.

"I thought our team played extremely well," Bragg said. "We played hard. We had our ups and downs and some fumbles and some mishaps on special teams, but those things are all fixable. We've just got to work on those in practice."

"Bedford is a great team," he said. "Coach (Steve) Weber is a phenomenal coach. He's one of the best in the state. We knew he would make some adjustments, and he did in the second half ... At the end of the day, our kids wanted to win. In the elements and everything they just wanted to win."

Bragg said the weather conditions made it tough to handle the ball for both teams.

"This weather, it's crazy, and I told our boys this is going to be like this in three weeks," Bragg said. "When we get to sectionals and get up against Bedford or Jeffersonville or New Albany, you can't pack it up and go home because it's raining and it's a little chilly. All four of those teams want to win a championship. You're going to have to win in the rain and the elements."

Bedford N.L. 0 14 7 0 21

Floyd Central 7 12 10 0 29

FC Wenkers Wright 2 run (Cole Hussung kick); BNL Tabin Stillions 5 pass from Dalton Nikirk (Ethan Baer kick); FC Landon Deweese 5 run (kick fails); BNL Nikirk 1 run (Baer kick); FC Calvin Brown 31 pass from Tristan Polk (Hussung kick); BNL Skyler Bates 38 run (Baer kick); FC Hussung 27 FG; FC Wright 55 run (Hussung kick).

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