GREENFIELD — On a night when its 1973 Class 2A state champions were honored, the Greenfield-Central football program sought to put forth its own winning effort.
But despite their best performance since Week 1, the 2013 Cougars fell short in a 14-6 loss to Shelbyville on Friday.
If not for Jake Laker, G-C might have been able to end a three-game losing streak, and keep a three-game win streak against Shelbyville going. But the Golden Bears’ senior quarterback, who rushed for 187 of his team’s 242 yards, registered an 8-yard touchdown run with six minutes, 47 seconds left in the game to give the visitors a final 14-6 advantage.
“He’s a talented athlete that can make a lot of things happen,” G-C coach Roger Dodson said. “He kind of took the game under his wing tonight and he was a difference maker. He took charge.”
Despite Laker’s prowess, Shelbyville was able to dent the Cougars’ defense only once in the first half, on an 8-yard run by Kyle Uhls. The score and ensuing extra point gave Shelbyville (4-1, 2-0 Hoosier Heritage Conference) a 7-6 lead.
G-C (1-4, 0-3 HHC) stopped the Shelbyville offense on three straight 4th-down attempts deep inside Cougars’ territory to start the game. And G-C took its first lead since beating New Castle 32-7 in the season-opener at 6-0 on a Cameron Nuckols 64-yard run at the 10:00 mark of the second quarter. Dodson elected to go for a two-point conversion that failed.
On the Golden Bears’ next possession, Shelbyville was looking at another fourth-down attempt, this time 4th-and-4 on the Cougars’ 14. But an offsides penalty on G-C gave Shelbyville a first down, and Uhls later scored on the 8-yarder to give the Golden Bears what turned out to be the permanent lead.
The Cougars had seven penalties for 55 yards in the first half. On one potentially momentum-swinging drive, G-C quarterback Jeremiah Fields scampered for a 37-yard run inside Shelbyville’s 5-yard line only to have the play called back for a penalty.
“We kind of shot ourselves in the first half where we had a couple penalties,” Dodson said. “The game might have been a little bit different, but that’s how it goes.”
“We played another good football team tonight and we hung in there with them. And we had our chance.”
The Cougars were trailing 7-6 late in the third quarter when they took over on the Shelbyville 35-yard line following a fumble recovery by G-C’s Tim Perry.
But the Cougars failed to score on a drive in which they used two timeouts to avoid a delay of game penalty, then finally took a delay penalty on 4th-and-8 from the 19. On 4th-and-13, Fields was sacked by the Golden Bears’ Hunter Sanchez to end G-C’s last, best chance at a score.
Despite the frustrations, G-C ended a string of blowout losses. In Weeks 2-4, Lebanon, Delta and Yorktown beat the Cougars by a combined 152-33. Accompanying the losses were a host of G-C injuries that continue to effect the unit.
“For where we are and what the kids did tonight, the effort I’m certainly happy with, on both sides of the ball,” Dodson said.
“They haven’t stopped, and we’re working at it. That’s all you can do.”
G-C will visit a resurgent Rushville (4-1) program next Friday, with a 7 p.m. start. The Lions have won more than four games in a season only once since 2001.
Notes: Nuckols led G-C with 66 yards on 11 carries. Pending official team stats from this game, no Cougars runner has gained more than 100 yards in a contest this season. … Fields was 5-of-9 for 47 yards and no interceptions. Laker was 0-of-7 with no picks. … Greenfield had four fumbles and lost two; Shelbyville fumbled twice and lost one. … Shelbyville RB DeShaun French entered the game with 528 yards on 72 carries, and he was held to 19 yards on 12 attempts Friday.
40-year anniversary marked
Several former Cougars from the 1973 state champions were on hand Friday during a pre-game ceremony to mark their achievement.
The 1973 Cougars finished 12-0 and defeated Blackford 21-12 to win the Class 2A title, one of three football classes at the time.
Among those on hand Friday were former players and cheerleaders Tom Axon, Dan Leary, David Parker, Greg Carwein, Harry Miller, Dayne Dickerson, Bill Westfall, Ron Hackney, John Manning, Pat Ludwig, Doug Apple, Mike Stephenson, Mike Jack, Jay Fawver, Charlie Book, Jess Richie, Karol Payne Smith, Ginny Stanley Jackson, Kathy McClarnon and Melia Brook Sears.
Also present were Ernie Tidrow (former principal), Don Pfaff (athletic director), Buddy Busby (assistant coach) and Clayton Myers (head coach), for which the G-C football field is named.