By KEVIN HARRIS
Castle outscored Jeffersonville 28-14 in the second half to win its second Class 5A Sectional 8 championship in three years on Friday night at Castle Stadium.
The Class 5A No. 3 Knights scored the final 36 straight points from late in the second quarter to late in the fourth for a 50-29 victory to eliminate the Red Devils in the sectional championship round. Castle (12-0) will travel to 5A No. 6 Center Grove for next Friday’s Class 5A regional.
Jeff (8-4) was driving on its opening possession of the second half. However, on the Devils’ seventh play, Rayce Thornbury forced and recovered a Tyler Fridley fumble, giving the Knights possession at the Jeff 49-yard line.
On Castle’s first offensive play of the second half, Cameron Parus caught a Mitch Gilles pass at the 6 between two Jeff defenders. Two plays later, Christian Peach ran it in from 8 yards out and the Knights led 29-15 with 8:03 left in the third quarter.
Jeff went three-and-out on its next drive. This time Thornbury sacked Fridley on third-and-7 to force a punt, which gave the Knights possession in Jeff territory. The result was a Gilles to Jon-Marc Anderson 14-yard touchdown reception that gave Castle a 36-15 lead with 3:51 left in the third quarter.
Trailing by 21 points, Jeff was forced to go for it on fourth-and-5 from its own 39. Castle took over on downs after Clay Seitz broke up a Fridley pass. Gilles made the Red Devils pay again with a 17-yard TD pass to Joe Redburn for a 43-15 Castle lead early in the fourth quarter.
After stopping Jeff on another fourth-down attempt in Red Devil territory, the Knights put more points on the board when Anderson out-jumped Damin Smith for a 15-yard touchdown pass and a 50-15 Knights lead with 9:08 left.
Ricky Embry caught two TD passes from Fridley in the final 2:57 to end the Knights’ run. Fridley and Embry connected for three scoring passes in the contest.
Castle breezed down the field on the game’s opening possession, going 68 yards in a little more than four minutes. The Knights had six first downs — aided by four Jeff penalties — and Gilles carried the ball the final 3 yards into the left corner of the end zone.
Finch fumbled on the first play after Castle converted a successful onside kick. But Fridley was picked off by Thornbury five plays later, setting Castle up in the Devils’ red zone. Finch ran for 15 yards down to the 1 then scored on the next play, giving the Knights a 14-0 lead less than halfway through the opening period.
Jeff responded quickly on its next drive. The Devils needed six plays and only 1 minute and 38 seconds to complete a 72-yard drive. Embry hauled in a Fridley pass, made a cut that made two Knights miss and backed into the end zone. Fridley faked the ensuing point after and found Dalton Adkins in the left corner of the end zone to cut the Castle lead to 14-8.
Castle’s next drive went backwards. It started at the 22, but three penalties pushed it back to the Knight 1. After a 24-yard Thornbury punt, Jeff went 25 yards in six plays and Dionte Allen, who lined up at quarterback, plunged the final yard to even the game. A Fahuwu Momoh PAT kick gave Jeff its first lead at 15-14 with 1:45 left in the first.
Jeff forced the Knights to punt for a second straight time. But on the Devils’ next possession — its first of the second quarter — Fridley threw his second interception on a third-and-long.
After Castle turned the ball over on downs, Jeff was forced to punt with 1:50 left in the half. On the Knights’ first play of the drive, Gilles hooked up with Redburn for 39 yards to put Castle at the 1. Finch crossed the goal line for the second time on the next play to give the Knights the lead again. Gilles found Anderson in the flat on the two-point conversion and Castle led 22-15 at the break.
The first half was virtually even in every statistical category. Castle out-gained the Devils 177-173 and had 14 first downs to 11 for Jeff. The time of possession was separated by two seconds.
Fridley threw for 138 first-half yards and rushed for another 26. Six of his 16 completed passes went to Hines. Embry, who was nursing bruised ribs, finished the opening half with 56 yards.
Note: Final stats and quotes were unavailable due to the game’s late start and finish.
CLASS 5A SECTIONAL 8
CASTLE 50, JEFFERSONVILLE 29
Jeffersonville 15 0 0 14—29
Castle 14 8 14 14—50
C — Mitch Gilles 3 run (Carlos Caballero kick), 8:57.
C — Andrew Finch 1 run (Caballero kick), 6:15.
J — Ricky Embry 43 pass from Tyler Fridley (Dalton Adkins from Fridley), 4:37.
J — Dionte Allen 1 run (Fahuwu Momoh kick), 1:45.
C — Finch 1 run (Jon-Marc Anderson pass from Gilles), 1:17.
C — Christian Peach 8 run (Caballero kick), 8:03.
C — Anderson 14 pass from Gilles (Caballero kick), 3:51.
C — Joe Redburn 17 pass from Gilles (Caballero kick), 11:26.
C — Anderson 15 pass from Gilles (Caballero kick), 9:08.
J — Embry 20 pass from Fridley (Momoh kick), 2:57.
J — Embry 21 pass from Fridley (Momoh kick), :33.