Triton Central found success early with a ground-and-pound mentality Friday and ran over Greensburg in a 35-7 victory in Fairland.
Behind an offensive line missing two starters, the Tigers still amassed 383 yards on 53 rushing attempts.
“We have to throw the ball better but we came out and ran the ball really well,” said Triton Central head coach Tim Able (photo, far right), who collected career win No. 199 Friday at Mendenhall Field. “When you have a running back like Ray Crawford you have to take advantage of that.”
Quarterback Jace Stuckey, who threw for four touchdowns in TC’s season-opening win at Cascade, put the ball in the air just six times Friday, with two completions.
Triton Central did not need Stuckey’s big arm to take control of the game. Ray Crawford, who ran for 1,300 yards as a freshman, had a pair of rushing touchdowns Friday and collected 180 yards against the Pirates (1-1).
Brad Schultz, Brayden Wilkins and Stuckey combined for 161 yards on 26 more carries as the Tigers racked up 19 first downs.
“We know we have good running backs and good receivers and we block well,” said Able. “We had 11 people put their mind to it and block well and that helped keep our defense off the field.”
Triton Central took the opening drive of the game 71 yards on seven rushing plays. It ended when Crawford broke loose for an 18-yard scoring run. Brogan Winslow added the extra point.
Greensburg nearly matched the Tigers with a long-scoring drive on its first possession but Devon Emberton knocked down a fourth-and-four throw by quarterback Sam West into the end zone.
“Devon’s ball skills were really elite tonight,” said Abel. “He has come a long way from his freshman year. I am really proud of the way he has matured as a player.”
TC answered with a 13-play, 92-yard scoring drive that ended with Stuckey punching his way across the goal line from one yard out. Levi Dewey kicked the extra point to make it 14-0 early in the second quarter.
The Pirates’ second drive went nowhere when a fourth-and-three run by West was stuffed near the line of scrimmage.
Two plays later, Stuckey reversed field and ran 28 yards for his second scoring run of the game.
TC made it four straight scoring drives with its next possession, moving 67 yards on 11 plays and seeing Crawford go around the right end for a 27-yard score.
Greensburg had no answer for Triton Central’s ground game and the Tigers made it five consecutive scoring drives with a 24-yard run by Jaquan Blake early in the third quarter that ended an 83-yard drive.
What happened from there could hurt Triton Central in the next few weeks.
Greensburg freshman Kaden Acton took the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for the Pirates’ first points. Acton had a kickoff return for a touchdown in week one against Shelbyville. On the play, Schultz injured his left ankle and was helped off the field.
“It was hurting all over and that’s not a good sign,” said Abel after the game.
The Tigers’ next series failed to yield points for the first time in the game and Greensburg tried to build momentum. At the TC 26, West fired toward his sideline but missed his target. Crawford, who also plays cornerback for TC, was called for an illegal hit to the head of the intended receiver, Ethan Meadows, who slid low to catch the ball.
Crawford was ejected from the game for helmet-to-helmet contact which leaves his availability for a week three Indiana Crossroads Conference showdown at Indianapolis Lutheran in doubt. Athletic director Bryan Graham and Abel spoke at length after the game about the officials’ paperwork process and how it would affect Crawford.
With Crawford out of the game, sophomore Anthony Dunville was inserted into the game and he promptly intercepted West on the next play at the goal line.
Abel turned to Blake, a senior, and sophomore Brayden Wilkins to wind down the clock. The duo took the next seven carries and moved the ball to the 40-yard line. Stuckey had consecutive runs to net another first down before Wilkins broke free for 13 more yards.
While the Tigers did not score on what became a 15-play drive, it left Greensburg with just 70 seconds on the running clock following Jayden Mays’ only punt of the night.
Triton Central returns to ICC play next week to face Class A, No. 1 Indianapolis Lutheran (2-0), a 48-20 winner over Ritter in week two.
“We are still young and immature. When you have inexperienced kids … you have athletes to cover up that inexperience but next week we have to prepare better, we have to practice better, and we have to find ways to make things happen.”
Triton Central 35, Greensburg 7
SCORE BY QUARTERS
GB 0 0 7 0 -- 7
TC 7 21 7 0 -- 35
TC – Crawford 18 run (Winslow kick) 8:42
TC – Stuckey 1 run (Dewey kick) 9:52
TC – Stuckey 28 run (Dewey kick) 7:36
TC – Crawford 27 run (Dewey kick) 2:06
TC – Blake 24 run (Dewey kick) 5:46
GB – Acton 92 kickoff return (Shepherd kick) 5:26
GB – Acton 7-32, West 8-28, Scheumann 1-3, Colson 2-0
TC – Crawford 19-180, Wilkins 8-59, Schultz 5-53, Stuckey 13-49, Blake 5-33, Kleeman 3-9
GB – West 9-20-138
TC – Stuckey 2-6-37
GB – Meadows 4-68, Matthews 3-42, Moore 2-28
TC – Ball 1-23, Schultz 1-14