BROWNSTOWN — Brownstown Central dashed Silver Creek’s dreams of an unbeaten regular season and, most likely, its hopes for a Mid-Southern Conference title too Friday night.
Quarterback Derek Thompson ran for 160 yards and a touchdown, while throwing for another TD, and Braeden Walker scored twice to lead the Braves to a 22-13 triumph over the Dragons at Blevins Stadium.
The win was the 20th in a row for Brownstown (8-0, 7-0) against MSC competition, as well as its ninth straight against Silver Creek (7-1, 6-1) since the Dragons’ program was revived.
“I feel like we’re getting closer,” first-year Silver Creek coach Dave Papenhaus said. “We were right there the whole night. I think we matched their intensity. We rebounded well after things didn’t go our way, but we just can’t shoot ourselves in the foot and expect to hang in with a team like Brownstown.”
In addition to a pair of turnovers, including an interception that Walker returned for a touchdown, Silver Creek was flagged 11 times for 95 yards.
“Three or four of them were huge,” Papenhaus said. “We’re marching the down the field and get a holding [penalty]. Second-and-25’s are tough ones to overcome.”
The matchup of Top 10 teams — Brownstown entered No. 5 in Class 3A in the Associated Press polls and No. 6 in the Indiana Football Coaches Association rankings, while Silver Creek came in No. 9 in 4A in the AP rankings — lived up to the hype. For the first half at least.
The Dragons’ D, which entered ranked 13th in the state in scoring defense (8.14 points per game), forced a fumble and a punt on the Braves’ first two possessions.
Meanwhile, Silver Creek’s second possession ended in paydirt. The Dragons went 58 yards in eight plays — the biggest of which was Heath Knight’s 35-yard run on second-and-19 from the Braves’ 44 — on a march that Easton Messer capped off with a 3-yard TD run with 49.8 seconds left in the first quarter.
Silver Creek’s defense stayed stout, forcing Brownstown to punt again. However on the Dragons’ ensuing drive, facing third-and-12 from his own 37, Landers was flushed out of the pocket and tried to throw the ball away. Walker, however, picked the pass off and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown to tie it at 7-all with 5:13 left in the half.
“We had a screen called there, but it got in late, that’s on me,” Papenhaus said. “There was a little bit of miscommunication and they kind of panicked a little bit when the play wasn’t in on time. He tried to make a play, probably did a little too much there, but that’s not on him that’s on me — I should’ve gotten it in quicker.”
The Dragons went three-and-out on their next possession and it took Brownstown all of three plays to take a lead it wouldn’t lose. The first two plays were runs, the second of which was aided by a face mask penalty against Creek. The last play was a 39-yard touchdown pass from Thompson to Walker. The PAT made it 14-7 with 2:53 to play in the first half.
But just when it looked like the Braves had the momentum, Messer returned the ensuing kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown. The PAT failed, but Brownstown led by only one.
Silver Creek’s defense then came up big just before halftime, stopping the Braves at its 5.
The Dragons’ first two possessions of the second half, however, were hamstrung by penalties.
“We got a great stop at the end of the half, we’re right there,” Papenhaus said. “We get the ball coming out of the half, we’re driving down the field and get a penalty, that just derails that, and we have to punt it away.”
On its second possession of the second half Brownstown marched 60 yards in nine plays, taking a 20-13 lead on Thompson’s 5-yard TD run on the first play of the fourth quarter. In spite of a botched snap on the PAT, Eli Brown ran in the conversion to make it 22-13 with 11:56 to play.
The Dragons drove into Brownstown territory on their next possession, but couldn’t convert on fourth-and-4 from the Braves’ 36.
Silver Creek forced Brownstown to then go three-and-out, but Thompson’s 59-yard punt pinned the Dragons at their own 4 with 2:18 to play. Landers was sacked and fumbled on Creek’s third play, but the Braves gave the ball back with a fumble of their own with 50.3 seconds left. That wasn’t enough time for the Dragons, though.
“I think the kids understand that they left something on the table here,” Papenhaus said. “We’ll just get back to the drawing board and get back at it.”
Silver Creek closes out its regular season next Friday night, when it hosts Corydon Central at 7 p.m. The Dragons could clinch a tie for the MSC tie with a win and a Brownstown loss at Scottsburg (3-5, 3-4), which beat Eastern 24-18 Friday.