Even without star running back James Renton, the Floyd Central Highlanders looked to have a winnable game as Madison traveled to Floyds Knobs in the Hoosier Hills Conference opener for both teams.

But the Cubs’ air attack proved to be too much for the battered Highlanders, who fell to 0-3 (0-1 HHC) after a 28-14 loss.

Strong-armed Madison (1-2, 1-1) signal caller Cody Roeder connected for 12 of his 21 pass attempts for 283 yards and three touchdown passes and exposed the Floyd Central pass defense throughout.

“Our kids just weren’t where they were supposed to be and to Coach (Mike) Dowell’s credit, they went after us,” Floyd Central coach Rusty Cecil said. “Our pass defense wasn’t where we needed it to be.”

After Floyd went three-and-out on the opening possession of the game, Madison halfback Chris Ball sprinted around right end for a 43-yard touchdown run. Brandon Stoll added the extra point and the Cubs led 7-0, and they wouldn’t relinquish the lead.

With Renton out, sophomore halfback Joe Sprigler received the majority of the carries, and he added a 30-yard touchdown scamper with 3:58 left in the first quarter. Cole Richards’ extra-point attempt was block, and Madison held a 7-6 lead.

As has been the case this year for the Highlanders, bad luck struck on Madison’s next possession. On third and long, Roeder dropped back and fired a bullet at wideout Justin Downey. The ball caromed off his hands, floated in the air and was picked up by Eddie Miller, who carried the ball into the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown grab. After a missed kick attempt, Madison led 13-6 with 2:44 left in the first quarter.

“There could have been some things that happened differently, but we shot ourselves in the foot with penalties and other mistakes,” said Cecil, who noted that two Highlander touchdowns were called back because of offensive holding calls. “One of our guys could have picked off that ball. But we made too many mistakes.”

Roeder hit Miller for a 75-yard-touchdown pass early in the second quarter and hit Brett Lattire for the two-point conversion pass to give the Cubs a 21-6 lead. But Floyd struck back, and after an 9-play drive that resulted in a Travis Stevens touchdown pass to Tyler Davis and two-point conversion by Davis to Windler, Floyd entered half-time with a manageable 21-14 deficit.

“We had to pass the ball because they were doing a good job stuffing the run,” Dowell said. “They have a great program and have a history of having some big guys on the line. We had to take what they gave us.”

An eight-minute drive by the Cubs that opened the third quarter deflated the Highlanders and ended with Roeder’s third strike, a 21-yard hookup with Downey. Brandon Stoll’s extra point closed out the scoring.

Again, there were a few bright spots for the Highlanders. Stevens was effective and accurate, completing 18 of 27 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown. And in Renton’s absence, Sprigler carried the ball 20 times for 121 yards.

But the Highlanders missed the big-play ability of Renton, who is expected back next week as the Highlanders travel to Seymour and is nursing a strained hip flexor.

“Not having James puts a little more pressure on everyone else,” Cecil said.

FLOYD CENTRAL 6 8 0 0 -- 14

MADISON 13 8 7 0 -- 28

1st Quarter

M — Ball 43 run (Stoll kick), 7-0, M. 10:25

FC — Sprigler 30 run (kick blocked), 7-6, M. 3:58

M — Roeder 30 pass to Miller (kick failed), 13-6, M. 2:44

2nd Quarter

M — Roeder 75 pass to Miller (Roeder pass to Lattire), 21-6, M. 9:07

FC — Stevens 8 pass to Davis (Stevens pass to Windler), 21-14, M. :45.2

3rd Quarter

M — Roeder 21 pass to Downey (Stoll kick), 28-14, M. 5:30

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