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Floyd Central’s Bryce Smith, right front, gets a defensive bear hug from Castle’s Evan Goebel on the final play of the game to force a fumble that led to the Knights winning the sectional championship in overtime. Photos by Wade Bell

Floyd fumbles, falls to Castle, 45-44

Football Sectional

November 10, 2010
Going into its Class 5A Sectional 8 final against visiting Castle, Floyd Central had inched out a one-point win in three of its last four games. Friday night, however, the Highlanders found out what it felt like to be on the opposite end, falling 45-44 to end their season.

"We laid it on the line, that's for sure," Floyd Central coach Brian Glesing said. "Our kids didn't leave anything out here. Castle is a good football team and it's not indicative of their (6-6) record. They've got a good chance of winning next week, too."

Castle got things going early when Logan Hayford scored on a 36-yard run less than three minutes into the game. Cameron Steenburg's extra-point kick was perfect through the uprights and the Knights led 7-0.

The Highlanders didn't score until the second period. Forced to start on its own 1-yard line after a Knights' punt late in the first, Floyd Central called running back Kyle Bramble's number on the first four plays of the drive, with the latter hitting pay dirt when he ran 69 yards to score. Jason VanBuren punched the point-after kick to tie the game with 10:53 left in the half.

It didn't take long for Castle to strike again, as Trey Smith put the Knights in scoring position with a kickoff return to the Floyd Central 25-yard line. Three plays later, Hayford ran in from 16 yards as Castle took a 14-7 lead.

Floyd Central’s Brett Zoll, top, goes high amongst three Castle defenders to haul in this pass in the second half.
Floyd Central stayed patient throughout its next possession, using 14 plays to score when Dylan Jenny ran in from the 4-yard line to tie the game at 14.

The Knights, however, added another TD and, with 2.2 seconds left in the half, a field goal to take a 24-14 lead to the break.

"We sputtered a little bit, but then got it going a little bit," Glesing said. "Obviously, we've got to get better defensively next year. You can't win consistently giving up 40 points. You just can't do it."

The Highlanders made a switch to begin the second half with sophomore Bryce Smith taking the snap at quarterback. The big difference there was Smith being able to provide an air game as well as a running game.

"It had nothing to do with Garrett (Shanks)," Glesing said. "We needed a little spark, and Bryce can throw the ball a little bit better. They made some great plays. He gave us a spark, and that was good. One of the things was Garrett was playing both ways. He was on defense, too. We needed him to make some plays defensively. We had to change course a little bit. For Bryce, that's a big deal for him."

Floyd Central had to settle for a field goal after moving the ball to the 4-yard line on its next possession.

The Highlanders went for the onside kick and thought they had recovered the ball, but officials handed possession to the Knights. Floyd Central's reaction didn't sit well with the officials who added a penalty to put the ball on the Highlanders' 35-yard line. The Knights then scored again as Hayford ran the ball in, giving Castle a 31-14 lead.

Then came two big plays for the Highlanders. Brock Slavens returned the ball to the Floyd Central 40-yard line. On the next play, Bramble sprinted 60 yards to score. On the kickoff return, Deandre Andrews fumbled the ball to the Highlanders. Three plays later, Floyd Central was in the end zone again, and VanBuren punched the ball through the uprights to tie the game at 31 with 3:10 left in the third quarter.

"We could have easily packed it up," Glesing said. "We fought back and gave ourselves a chance."

"We knew, if we scored on our first drive, which we did … that we were going to do an onside kick," he said. "I don't know what happened there on that. We didn't get it, but we made a stop. We scored and tied it up, and I was proud of our effort. We told them we wanted to be ahead. We got it tied."

Both teams scored in the fourth period, as Hayford gave the Knights a 31-yard touchdown and Bramble immediately answered with an 85-yard kickoff return for the Highlanders to tie the game at 38.

Castle was forced to punt the ball with 3:18 to go. After moving the ball to the Castle 9-yard line, the Highlanders, on fourth down, tried to coax the defense offside but, instead, called another time-out. VanBuren then tried a field-goal attempt from 27 yards with 17.7 seconds left only to see it go left of the goal post, sending the game into overtime.

In the extra period, each team would get four downs starting on the 10-yard line. Castle's Hayford scored on the second play from four yards, with Steenburg getting the extra-point kick to put his team in front, 45-38.

Needing a touchdown and successful point-after kick to keep the game going, Floyd Central got into the end zone on the second play of its series when Slavens scored on a reverse.

Instead of going for the tie and giving each team another series, the Highlanders went for the win on a two-point conversion. The Knights' Evan Goebel put a bear hug on Smith, squeezing the ball out of his hands. Hayford was on the ball quickly, and the Knights had the sectional championship, 45-44.

"I know he feels bad for that last play, but he played a great second half," Glesing said of Smith. "He stepped right in and did what he had to do. That's exciting for our future."

"It would have been nice to punch it in under regulation, but it didn't happen," he said. "Somebody had to lose, and it was us tonight. We can't complain. We've been on the winning end of these. We can't complain too much."

Floyd Central (9-3) had 468 total yards of offense to Castle' 432. The Highlanders carried the ball 54 times for 367 yards, with Bramble getting the call 39 times for 304 yards. Jenny carried nine times for 48 yards. Floyd Central completed 6 of 13 passes for 101 yards. On defense, T.J. Werner had 11 tackles with Austin Wirth, Shane Sneed and Shanks getting seven tackles each. Josh Hack had six tackles.

Glesing said his team still needs to pick things up defensively.

"Defensively, we can't stop anybody," he said. "You can't win. The good news is, on the flip side, offense they can't stop us either. You think you're going to score 40-some points you're going to win, but we were on the winning end of giving up 60. That's a big concern for us for next year, and, hopefully, we can get it fixed."

Glesing said he was proud of how his team responded in what could have been a blowout.

"It could have been bad," he said. "For them to come back and have a chance to win, it is huge. I'm proud of them. … To win nine games and play for a title, a chance to win the sectional, that's what our program's about. That's pretty cool."

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    Any story on sports
    November 12, 2010 | 06:55 AM

    Sports stories seem to consume the majority of you publication. How sad, get a life people.

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