FAIRLAND – Class 2A, No. 9 Triton Central put forth its most complete effort of the season Friday and throttled Indian Creek, 49-14, at Mendenhall Field.
“You can see the last two weeks we are really starting to hit our stride,” said Triton Central head coach Tim Able. “We are not where we need to be yet, but it’s good to see things are starting to mix.”
The Tigers scored touchdowns on their first six offensive series of the game and intercepted Indian Creek quarterback Arj Lothe four times to improve to 4-1 in their final non-conference game of the season.
Triton Central struck offensive balance with running back Ray Crawford rushing for 101 yards and collecting two interceptions on defense.
Quarterback Jace Stuckey saw little pressure from the Indian Creek defense and completed 13-of-15 pass attempts for 260 yards and two touchdowns. The junior ran for another touchdown and did not play the fourth quarter.
“That’s a credit to our (offensive) line,” said Stuckey. “We know they (the offensive line) can do it but being able to grow and get that chemistry together and getting it done was nice.”
Lothe’s quick release kept the TC defensive line from getting to him but the lefty never found a rhythm, completing just 15 of 31 attempts for 182 yards and four interceptions.
Mason Compton (photo) started the pick parade on the second play of the game when he intercepted Lothe near the Triton Central sideline.
Triton Central went on a 90-yard drive that featured Crawford running the ball seven times and catching a short pass. A 35-yard catch and run early in the drive by Brad Schultz helped the Tigers get into the red zone and Brayden Wilkins finished it off with a 6-yard scoring run. Brogan Winslow added the extra point to make it 7-0.
Lothe and the Braves (3-2) responded with an 80-yard drive that ended with a 34-yard scoring strike to Lance Butler.
Compton had a pair of catches on TC’s next drive and Stuckey stuck his nose in the end zone early in the second quarter to make it 14-7. Levi Dewey added the extra point kick.
The defense forced the first punt of the game and Stuckey came back on the field. After an 8-yard Crawford run, the two did not pull off a clean exchange on second down and Stuckey was forced to scramble. Thirty yards later the Tigers had first-and-goal.
Consecutive 5-yard runs by Crawford (photo) extended the lead to 21-7.
Crawford got his first interception on the sixth play of Indian Creek’s next drive and TC needed three plays to score again. Compton ran open down the middle of the field and Stuckey hit him perfectly for a 35-yard scoring strike and a 28-7 lead.
Dewey snatched the third interception of the half and returned it 64 yards for a touchdown. Then he added the extra point kick (photo) in the unique scenario for a cornerback/kicker.
Indian Creek punted on its next series and Triton Central went for its sixth touchdown to secure a running clock in the second half. Stuckey hit Schultz with a screen pass that turned into a 33-yard scoring reception.
Crawford’s second interception came in the end zone and he returned it to midfield before stepping out of bounds just before the clock ran out.
The Tigers led 42-7 at halftime after a stellar defensive performance.
“That’s coach K (Tim Kegley) putting them in the right spots,” said Stuckey. “Our defensive backs are really, really skilled. There are athletes all over the field. Coach Kegley studied well and put them in the right places to make plays.”
Crawford’s 34-yard run opened the second half and he finished off the four-play drive with a 7-yard scoring run.
Indian Creek put together an 11-play, 78-yard scoring drive in response. Malachi Mink burst into the end zone from two yards out to set the final score.
Winslow collected Triton Central’s fifth interception of the game midway through the fourth quarter when he intercepted a Jackson Wise pass attempt along the sideline.
Both of Triton Central’s kickers had interceptions in the Homecoming victory.
“We did a good job of playing over the top of the deep route,” said Able. “When you are in the trail position then you have to play the man. Even the touchdown they got, we were right there.”
Triton Central returns to the Indiana Crossroads Conference grind next Friday against Indianapolis Ritter on the campus of Marian University. The Raiders are 1-3 (0-3 ICC) after a 44-8 victory Friday over Indianapolis Shortridge (2-3).
Triton Central 49, Indian Creek 14
SCORE BY QUARTERS
IC (3-2) 7 0 7 0 -- 14
TC (4-1) 7 35 7 0 -- 49
TC – Wilkins, 6 run (Winslow kick), 4:20
IC – Butler, 34 pass Lothe (Jackson kick), 1:37
TC – Stuckey, 1 run (Dewey kick), 10:45
TC – Crawford, 5 run (Dewey kick), 7:23
TC – Compton, 35 pass Stuckey (Dewey kick), 4:42
TC – Dewey, 64 interception return (Dewey kick), 2:52
TC – Schultz, 33 pass Stuckey (Dewey kick), 1:09
TC – Crawford, 7 run (Winslow kick), 8:50
IC – Mink, 2 run (Jackson kick), 2:31
Rushing: Sauer 6-50, Mink 9-27, Lothe 2-15 (IC); Crawford 15-101, Stuckey 3-30, Kemper 3-22, Copeland 5-14, Schultz 1-1, Perkon 1-7, Brown 1-5, Collier 1-(-1) (TC).
Passing: Lothe 15-31-182, Wise 0-1-0 (IC); Stuckey 13-15-260, Collier 2-2-17 (TC).
Receiving: Coroa 5-43, Pappas 3-47, Mink 4-22, Ramey 1-20, Butler 1-34, Sauer 1-16 (IC); Schultz 4-109, Compton 4-71, Chandler 2-45, Kemper 1-23, Brown 1-13, Crawford 1-11, Gurganus 1-4, Wilkins 1-1 (TC).
Steve Bush photos