Charlestown fans, I’m sure you were thinking the almost the same thing I was at halftime of Friday night’s Class 3A regional at Dutch Reis Field.
The Class 3A No. 2 Pirates led 49-21 and appeared to be on their way to a semi-state showdown with third-ranked Indianapolis Chatard next week.
I automatically thought it was over — the Pirates are going to play in their first semi-state since 1989.
Pirate quarterback Aaron Daniel was doing what he has been doing throughout his career in the first half, which was scoring touchdowns.
In the opening half, Daniel had three touchdown passes and two TD runs. Teammate Seth McCutchen tacked on two TD runs.
During halftime I was already wondering how the Pirates would stack up against Chatard, probably the best program in Class 3A football in Indiana.
But in the second half, there were a couple of things I discovered about Gibson Southern. The Titans had an explosive offense, too. And the second thing, they do not quit.
When Gibson Southern wide receiver Spencer Schmitt caught a 65-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jordan Scheller 25 seconds into the third quarter to slice Charlestown’s lead to 49-28, I thought it was no big deal.
Charlestown would get the ball back and probably answer the Titans’ score like it did a few times in the first half.
But then the Gibson Southern defense accomplished something very few opponents have done against the Pirates’ offense all season — the Titans forced a three-and-out and a punt.
Gibson Southern then drove the ball down the field again versus the Pirates’ vaunted defense, which was third in the state in scoring defense.
Scheller capped off the series with a 1-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter, cutting the Pirates’ lead to 49-35.
Was I concerned for Charlestown yet?
Not really. The Pirates are still up 14 and all season they have found a way to answer any challenge they have received from an opponent.
But this was a different Charlestown team than fans have seen all season in the second half. After halftime, the Pirates seemed complacent and lacked the intensity that they played with in the first half.
As a result, their legion of fans were not as vocal as they usually are. In the meantime, Gibson Southern’s fans were getting louder.
Charlestown’s complacency showed late in the third when it had another three-and-out. Gibson Southern took advantage with a 54-yard scoring drive that ended with a 9-yard TD run off a bootleg play by Scheller with 1:39 left in the third. Then after the Pirates got called for offsides on the extra-point attempt, the Titans decided to go for two and converted it as Scheller rumbled into the end zone.
The score is now Charlestown 49, Gibson Southern 43.
Now, I’m worried for the Pirates.
On Charlestown’s first play from scrimmage, Daniel did something he rarely does — throw an interception.
Gibson Southern took advantage of the turnover and with time running out in the third, receiver Brooks Martin caught a 16-yard TD pass to give the Titans their first lead of the contest at 50-49 as time expired in the third quarter. Gibson Southern had just scored an unthinkable 29 points in the third.
It was the first time the Pirates had trailed since they were down 3-0 early in their 41-3 regular-season win over Brownstown Central.
With less than eight minutes to go in regulation, I thought Charlestown finally got the momentum shift it needed. Charlestown senior Cole Nokes intercepted a Scheller pass deep in Pirate territory on a third-and-5.
I believed that play was going to turn the Pirates’ fortunes around. But a penalty flag changed all that.
Charlestown got called for defensive holding — first down, Titans.
On the next play, Scheller ran a keeper out of the shotgun and waltzed into the end zone against a tired and frustrated Charlestown defense.
The score ended there with this shocking result on the scoreboard — Gibson Southern 57, Charlestown 49. The Titans outscored the Pirates in the second half amazingly 36-0.
My initial thought as I looked at the scoreboard — did this actually happen?
Yes, it did.
No question, the Pirates had a great season. But unfortunately they will remember that this is the special victory that got away from them in the historic 2012 campaign.
Contact Kevin Harris at Kevin.email@example.com.