GREENFIELD — The Greenfield-Central Cougars were without their starting quarterback for homecoming night, but the running game was present and ready.
Led by senior running back Skylar Gary and a tenacious defense, the Cougars powered to a 31-18 victory against Hoosier Heritage Conference rival Pendleton Heights.
Gary rushed for 211 yards on 19 carries and capped the Cougars’ final drive of the night with a 28-yard power sprint to the end zone.
The Cougars (3-1, 1-1 HHC) led 24-12 by halftime and forced the Arabians (1-3, 0-2 HHC) into three turnover on downs. The Greenfield-Central defense had to takeaways, including a fumble recovery to set the tone.
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A high snap on the Arabians first play from scrimmage on first-and-10 from their own 16 sailed over quarterback Christian Conkling’s head, which Cougars’ Kyle Morris collected in the end zone.
The touchdown foreshadowed Morris’ night, as the junior recorded a pair of sacks. His second takedown came on big defensive sequence with the Cougars sacking Conkling two times straight. The other sack went to Ryan Haynes to setup Morris’ third-down momentum punch with the Arabians deep in their own territory.
Jarod Miller hauled in an interception on the Arabians’ final drive, which game the Cougars solid field position on their own 43 late in the game. On two Arabians’ drives that neared the Cougars’ red zone, the defense stood strong, killing the threats on their own 7 and 22 yard lines.
The few times the Cougars defense, Pendleton Heights running back Payton Huth was the benefactor. He rushed for 161 yards and three touchdowns. His longest scored stretched 38 yards. His longest run measured 68 yards.
Conkling completed 14 of 27 passes for 159 yards, finding his first eight straight targets before throwing an incompletion.
Andrew Leslie, who started in place of Spencer Hert at quarterback due to a concussion, passed for 30 yards on 4 of 10 completions and a touchdown to Orlando Mojica for 5 yards in the third quarter. The pass capped a highlight 92-yard drive for the Cougars that put them up 24-12 with 7.6 seconds before halftime.
Cole Pierce put the Cougars ahead 17-12 in the second quarter with a 30-yard field. Jaden Brown rushed for a 6-yard touchdown to increase Greenfield-Central’s lead 14-6.
The Cougars win snapped a two-game losing streak to the Arabians.