Center Grove’s habit of low-scoring football games against Warren Central came to a screeching halt Friday night.
The Trojans’ wild 42-38 come-from-behind victory gives coach Eric Moore’s program its second consecutive regular-season win here after posting a “W” on Indy’s Eastside in 2013.
Trailing by two touchdowns with 2:56 remaining in the third quarter, Center Grove rallied with big play after big play to go 1-0 on both the season and in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference standings.
Moore, who has endured his share of heartache on this very field, was proud of the determination his team displayed.
“We’re a mature team. We have a lot of experience. Like I told them, we tried to beat ourselves and we didn’t do it. We just got to playing good, hard-nosed football. Titus McCoy really came alive in the second half, and that’s partly my fault because I wasn’t running him as much in the first half,” Moore said.
A hard-charging 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior, McCoy rushed for 112 of his game-high 130 yards and all three of his touchdowns in the second half.
McCoy’s 1-yard dive over the top with 2:45 remaining in the fourth quarter provided the Trojans the winning points.
Warren Central took over on its own 33, but incompletions on first and second downs combined with a motion penalty on the Warriors basically ended their chances.
This from an offense that completed 17 of its first 19 passes.
Center Grove’s winning drive came after starting from its own 24 with the scoreboard showing 8:40 remaining. A Joey Siderewicz pass to split end Zak Smith on fourth-and-11 moved the ball from the Warren Central 39 to the 11.
Three plays later McCoy was in the end zone.
Siderewicz completed all eight of his pass attempts for 150 yards and scoring passes of 29 and 40 yards to complement the Trojans rushing for 229 yards.
Defensively, senior Jovan Swann came up huge with a blocked punt with 17 ticks left in the third stanza that turned into an 11-yard touchdown scamper by junior defensive end Dan Root.
This finally pulled Center Grove even at 35-all after previously trailing, 35-21, and at times looking incapable of a comeback against the athletic Warriors.
Warren Central completed 11 of 12 first-half pass attempts for 144 yards on its way to a 21-14 halftime advantage.
The Trojans struck first, marching 85 yards in 15 plays on what was their first offensive series of the season.
After 14 consecutive running plays, Siderewicz rolled right and located junior Trevor Hohlt over the middle for a 29-yard touchdown strike at 6:37 of the first.
Warren Central responded with an 80-yard drive of its own to tie the score at 7-7. Lining up at quarterback, versatile 6-foot-2 junior Tristen Tonte, who had four first-half receptions, sneaked in from the 1 two plays into the second stanza.
Center Grove’s second offensive series netted a minus-5 yards in four plays, giving the Warriors the opportunity for immediate momentum.
This time WC covered 55 yards, the go-ahead points coming on junior quarterback Zach Summeier’s 9-yard TD slant to 6-3 junior receiver Paul Minor.
The Trojans managed to bounce back by covering 80 yards in nine plays on the ensuing series. Facing a second-and-9, Siderewicz delivered a gorgeous 40-yard scoring strike to senior split end Quinton Stirsman at 1:55 of the second period.
Warren Central regained possession at its 32 with only 1:49 showing, yet still managed to work the pigskin downfield for points.
This time it was Summeier’s pretty touch pass into the left flat resulting in a 37-yard touchdown by senior back Isaac Avant.
Siderewicz completed all four of his first half passes for 81 yards and the two scores; Center Grove’s ground attack managed 79 first-half yards in 20 carries.
Next up for Center Grove is the annual Week 2 battle with county rival Whiteland on the Trojans’ home turf.