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September 20, 2013

H.S. FOOTBALL: Highlanders knock off Jeff, 28-14

Devils suffer first loss at rain-soaked Homecoming

JEFFERSONVILLE — A relentless, unforgiving downpour Friday night at Blair Field put a major damper on the pageantry of Homecoming.

Ultimately, though, it was the Floyd Central football team that rained on the parade of Jeffersonville.

Amid the driving rain, the Highlanders forced the Red Devils into a staggering eight turnovers, mostly bottled up superstar Austin Hines and rode their own star back, Gaige Klingsmith, to a stunning 28-14 victory in Hoosier Hills Conference action.

“This was a huge win, and everybody was doubting us,” said Klingsmith, who scored twice. “We were the underdogs and came through.”

After the huge victory, the Highlanders (4-1, 3-0 HHC) trotted over to the stands and filed into a line to deliver high-fives to fans strewn across the fence. Nobody was denying the significance of a win that kept Floyd Central undefeated in league play and was among its biggest triumphs of the last few years.

“Our whole team came in here and knew we were going to win,” said Brandon Stout, who had two interceptions and a touchdown catch. “Everybody said this was an upset, but not to us.”

The win — whether it was an upset or not — literally started and ended with an opportunistic and heady Floyd Central defense. Stout intercepted the first pass of Jeff quarterback Jamal Britt, and the Devils’ last two plays resulted in a lost fumble in the end zone that was recovered by Elijah Miller for a touchdown and a sack of the quarterback.

In between, Jeff (4-1, 3-1) committed six other turnovers. The Devils were intercepted four times and lost four fumbles, a deflating performance for an offense that came into the game ranked No. 1 in scoring in Class 6A.

Of course, Floyd Central entered the contest third in 5A in scoring. With driving rain pervasive for most of the game, the offensive fireworks could not be expected. The Highlanders did the superior job of adjusting to the elements — they turned the ball over just once, and the seven-turnover differential was the difference.

“That’s what it all comes down to whenever there’s a big rain game,” Stout said. “It’s going to come down to who hits the hardest, who plays the hardest for all four quarters and who can take care of the football.”

“The elements played a part in the game,” Floyd Central coach Brian Glesing conceded, “and I thought we rose to the occasion more than they did.”  

After Floyd Central trimmed Jeff’s 14-7 halftime lead to one after Stout caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Colton Kimm, Klingsmith took a pitch right following Stout’s interception of Dionte Allen and cut back to the center of his offensive line. He burst through a hole and dashed 82 yards for the go-ahead touchdown while Logan Vaughn added the two-point conversion on a reverse for a 21-14 lead with seven seconds left in the third.

It proved to be the winning touchdown. Klingsmith piled up 195 yards on 31 carries. His 17-yard touchdown run in the first quarter tied the game at 7.

“I was just being shifty and finding my holes, and the line was picking up blocks downfield,” Klingsmith said.

Floyd Central’s defense did more than force Jeff into turnovers. The Highlanders held Hines under 100 yards rushing, which hadn’t happened this season. The senior running back finished with 89 yards on 18 carries, with a bulk of it coming on a 43-yard touchdown run with 14 seconds left in the first quarter that gave Jeff a 14-7 lead.

The Devils wouldn’t score again, shut out over the final three quarters while committing a slew of turnovers and changing quarterbacks multiple times. With Britt struggling — he threw three interceptions — the hulking Allen, normally a tight end, took over in the third quarter and mainly ran himself on direct snaps or handed the ball off to Hines. Allen’s lone throw got picked off by Stout.

Britt re-entered to start the fourth quarter but was intercepted for the third time, this occasion by Garry Posey, the second pick for him.

Jeff was still only down one touchdown at 21-14 with 3:19 left in the fourth when freshman Camaron Northern was inserted at quarterback, but he couldn’t bring in a shotgun snap and the ball was recovered by Floyd Central’s Jacob Trudeau.

Jeff had the ball one last time on its own 3-yard line with 1:02 remaining. The Devils proceeded to commit their eighth and final turnover as Miller recovered a fumble in the end zone following a sack.

Jeff struck first in the opening period when Britt found Isaiah Blanton for a 45-yard touchdown. Britt finished 7 of 13 for 90 yards while Kimm, his counterpart, completed 2 of 7 passes for 35 yards and a touchdown.

The Highlanders have an even bigger task next week when they travel to Columbus to take on Class 4A No. 1 East. Jeff (4-1, 3-1 HHC) travels to Providence to face a 4-0 Pioneer team that had a week off after Indianapolis Manual forfeited the win.

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