By DANIEL SUDDEATH
FLOYDS KNOBS —
Floyd Central forced five turnovers and shut out Jennings County to advance in the Class 5A playoffs with a 27-0 victory over the Panthers on Friday.
Senior defensive back Gabriel Kennedy picked off two Jennings County passes to help lift the Highlanders in a stark contrast of a competition to when the teams played three weeks ago.
That tilt, which was also won by Floyd Central, featured a 84 points as the Highlanders struggled to contain the Panthers rushing attack.
During the Sectional 14 matchup, however, Floyd Central (8-2) held Jennings County (3-7) to 203 yards on offense and only 145 rushing yards.
“We were excited to get a shutout. We haven’t had one in quite awhile,” Highlander coach Brian Glesing said.
The Panthers fumbled at the Highlander 1-yard line in the third quarter and squandered their greatest threat to score when running back Preston Teltow lost the ball.
Jennings County — trailing 20-0 at the time — had marched down the field on the first possession of the second half to setup a first and goal at the 4 before the fumble.
With Floyd Central backed up the in the shadow of its own end zone, running back Nick Uhl carried the football through a pack of Panthers defenders and broke free for a 29-yard gain to get the Highlanders out of trouble.
Floyd Central nursed the football for most of the second half and Kennedy put the game out of reach with a 28-yard touchdown run with 5:20 left in the fourth quarter.
Floyd Central defensive end Logan Hanger setup the Highlanders final scoring drive of the game when he sacked Jennings County quarterback Conner Byram and stripped him of the football with 5:27 remaining in the game.
“Bottom line is we’ve got some guys that really want to win football games,” Glesing said.
Highlanders junior running back Gaige Klingsmith ran for two touchdowns in the game, both of which came in the first quarter.
He started off the scoring for Floyd Central when he broke a 61-yard run to put the Highlanders up 6-0 with 7:13 left in the first quarter.
Klingsmith finished with a game-high 124 yards on the ground. Uhl chipped in 87 yards on seven carries and running back Garry Posey scored a touchdown on his only carry of the game.
Floyd Central tallied 256 rushing yards against Jennings County.
The Sectional 14 playoffs started this week with sectional championship next Friday when Floyd Central travels to Whiteland, which defeated Franklin 24-22 in the other Sectional 14 semifinal.
FLOYD CENTRAL 27, JENNINGS COUNTY 0
Jennings County 0 0 0 0— 0
Floyd Central 14 6 0 7—27
FC — Klingsmith 61 yard run (kick failed), 7:13
FC — Klingsmith 8 yard run (run conversion), 3:10
FC — Posey 4 yard run (pass failed), 8:14
FC — Kennedy 28 yard run (Ryan Lenz kick good), 5:20
Jennings County: Byram 5-21-58.
Floyd Central: Colton Kimm 1-3-21.
Jennings County: Teltow 21-92, Dakota Bott 7-25, Nick Nixon 4-26, Byram 1-2.
Floyd Central: Klingsmith 15-124, Uhl 7-87, Kennedy 4-33, Posey 1-4, Brandon Stout 2-3, Kimm 3-5.
Jennings County: Keegan Beineke 2-27, Nixon 2-17, Teltow 1-14.
Floyd Central: Trevor Smith 1-21.