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Rams flatten Wolfpack on homecoming, senior night

Rams flatten Wolfpack on homecoming, senior night
Rams flatten Wolfpack on homecoming, senior night
Paoli’s Bladen Patton leaps up to intercept a pass from Crawford County’s Keith Brooks during the second quarter of the Rams’ 55-0 victory over the Wolfpack on Friday. Photo by Brandon Miniard
By Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]

Friday was a night where Crawford County High School hosted multiple events outside of the day’s usual reservation for football. Prior to the Wolfpack’s Week 7 matchup against Patoka Lake Athletic Conference-rival Paoli, senior night festivities took place in honor of all Crawford County fall sports athletes and cheerleaders.

Once the two teams retreated to their respective locker rooms, halftime served as the setting for the Wolfpack’s homecoming ceremony. The Wolfpack had representation on the homecoming court as junior linebacker Tanner Arnold was named homecoming prince.

While Crawford County High School has shown the ability to do many things in a short period of time, the same could not be said for the Wolfpack on the gridiron. All the Wolfpack could do was try in vain to hold back an overwhelming Rams offense as the visitors went on a first-half rampage before traveling home with a 55-0 victory.

“We were completely physically outmatched in this ballgame,” head coach Tony Bell said. “Gotta give Paoli all the credit in the world; they earned this victory in many fashions.”

The Wolfpack received a vision of what the future of this contest held when they received the opening kick. Sophomore running back Ashton Arnold was dealt a tough break on the opening return as he fumbled the ball, which the Rams recovered deep inside Wolfpack territory. The Rams subsequently needed only a couple of plays to make the Wolfpack pay for their early blunder as Trey Rominger ran the ball 21 yards into the end zone, giving the Rams an early 6-0 advantage just over a minute into the contest.

Not even three minutes later, the Rams struck again as Carson Little deceived the Wolfpack defense before running the ball to the house for a 30-yard rushing touchdown. After fumbling the ball one play after the subsequent kick, the Wolfpack saw Little fire a bullet to Dexter Brown to complete a 45-yard touchdown pass. The ensuing PAT helped the Rams jump out to an early 19-0 edge.

The Rams concluded their first-quarter assault on their fourth drive of the game when Austin Benales got in on the scoring party with a 21-yard rushing touchdown. After notching a two-point conversion, the first quarter concluded with the Rams up 27-0.

The Rams began the second quarter on the Wolfpack’s six-yard line. The result of that field position was a six-yard touchdown pass from Little to William Baker, followed by a PAT to push the Rams’ advantage to 34-0.

Not even two minutes passed before the Rams’ offense struck again when Benales broke past the Wolfpack defense before traveling 78 yards to deliver the pigskin into the end zone once more. After finally finding their way into Rams’ territory, the Wolfpack threw away their best drive of the half when Bladen Patton jumped up to pick off a pass from senior Keith Brooks. A couple of plays later, Patton took the ball to the house on a 27-yard score with over four minutes to go in the half; the subsequent PAT made the beat-down 47-0.

Still not comfortable despite the large margin, the Rams piled on with over three minutes remaining in the half when a third fumble allowed the Rams to take the ball to the Wolfpack’s two-yard line. Little tossed the ball to Caleb Jones to complete the two-yard pass, giving the Rams their eighth touchdown while a two-point conversion pushed the deficit to 55-0 when halftime arrived.

“(Paoli) was a lot bigger than us; they were pretty strong and fundamentally sound,” Brooks said. “They were pushing us back the entire time; it was like they overpowered us the entire game.”

Halftime did not come before a scary moment with just over two minutes to go in the half when Wolfpack junior lineman Marcus Eastridge took a hard hit, which appeared to knock him out. After a few minutes on the ground, Eastridge was carted off to receive medical attention. According to Bell, Eastridge is likely to miss time with a concussion.

“It was a bang-bang collision, head on with another kid, so it’s probably concussion related; I don’t know the severity of it. He was taken to the hospital, but that’s pretty standard protocol,” Bell said. “Marcus was literally having the best game I’ve seen him play in the year and a half that I’ve coached him, so it’s a shame that he had to go down in that fashion.”

Once the second half began, the Indiana High School Athletic Association Mercy Rule took effect. That, alongside the Rams substituting many of their starters, meant the remainder of the contest was a mere formality before the final horn, allowing the Rams to travel home with their second straight 55-0 victory after posting the same score against Eastern Greene a week earlier.

“Give Paoli a lot of respect; they definitely could have done a lot more damage to us than what they did, so I appreciate that,” Bell said. “Defensively, there wasn’t a lot to be proud of other than in the second half. Even though we were playing against their JV kids, we didn’t give up a score in the second half.”

With the loss, the Wolfpack continued their offensive struggles against PLAC teams. The Wolfpack has managed to put up only 13 points in conference play. The lack of points this time around was made worse by the Wolfpack’s inability to break through against the Rams’ defense, managing 44 total offensive yards.

Brooks led the way for the Wolfpack in yardage by notching 18 rushing yards as well as two receiving yards, while Eastridge followed with 11 rushing yards prior to his departure. Freshman quarterback Aidan Bell recorded only two passing yards while running for -3 yards on the ground.

The Rams’ offense was just over 10 times superior as they recorded 430 total offensive yards, 325 of which were recorded on the ground. Benales led the way with 102 rushing yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns. Little had himself a day across the board as he recorded 135 total yards (105 passing, 30 rushing) with three passing touchdowns and a rushing score, while Brown led the Rams’ receiving corps with 85 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown.

Despite the stark contrast in numbers, Bell believes his team executed fairly well. Going into Week 8, he believes what his Wolfpack needs to work on the most is their psyche in the face of adversity.

“It’s not so much things that we need to work on that can make us more successful; it’s about being confident in our abilities to execute things,” Bell said. “When adversity sinks in, we tend to have a lack of confidence in our abilities. We got to get better at understanding that not every play’s gonna go our way, but we can overcome some of that adversity and, hopefully, get ourselves in a better position to make better plays and make better decisions.”

Friday will bring a chance at getting back into the win column when the Wolfpack travel to face PLAC-rival West Washington to conclude the road portion of their regular-season schedule. This contest will be a battle between the two worst defenses in the PLAC as the Wolfpack have allowed 148 points in conference play. The Senators are not far behind as they have allowed 148 points in PLAC while scoring just 66 of their own.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Paoli                                27  28     0     0 – 55

Crawford County             0     0     0     0 –   0

Paoli – Trey Rominger 21 yd run (2-PT failed); Paoli – Carson Little 30 yd run (kick failed); Paoli – Dexter Brown 45 yd pass from Carson Little (PAT success); Paoli – Austin Benales 21 yd run (Brown 2-PT conversion); Paoli – William Baker 6 yd pass from Little (PAT success); Paoli – Benales 78 yd run (kick blocked); Paoli – Bladen Patton 27 yd run (PAT success); Paoli – Caleb Jones 2 yd pass from Little (Brown 2-PT conversion).