INDIANAPOLIS — For Roncalli football coach Bruce Scifres, Franklin Central’s touchdown late in the first half seemed like a big momentum shift.
That cut the Rebels’ lead to 9-7.
“Our theme at halftime was we were kicking off to them, we had to get a stop, then starting moving the football again and regain momentum in this game,” Scifres said.
The Class 4A No. 3 Rebels did just that en route to a 22-14 victory against the Flashes on Friday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
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After a defensive stop, senior running back Kenny Gillum scored on an 8-yard TD run, capping a nine-play drive to give the Rebels (2-0) a 16-7 lead with 4:38 to go in the third quarter. Then, on the ensuing possession, linebacker Josh Swan stripped the ball and returned the fumble 25 yards for the score to boost the lead to 22-7.
“That changed the momentum for sure on our behalf,” Scifres said.
The Flashes (1-1) did manage to tighten the game with Jon Arnold’s 1-yard quarterback sneak on fourth down with 6:46 left in the fourth quarter. However, the Rebels’ defense provided another stop on the Flashes’ next possession.
It was the Rebels’ sixth consecutive victory against the Flashes.
Gillum, who gained 97 yards on 16 carries, also scored the Rebels’ first TD on a 5-yard run.
“The O-line played nasty; give all the credit to them,” said Gillum, who was named MVP by Big Games at the Big Stadium organizers. “The defense came up big, and then we finished it. It was a great team win.”
Friday’s second game, Hamilton Heights vs. Kokomo, was postponed because of the tornado that hit Kokomo Wednesday.
Roncalli junior running back Patrick McManama chipped in with 52 yards on 11 attempts.
“We had a couple of guys running really hard and they protected it,” Scifres said. “We never put the ball on the ground and we had no turnovers. That’s a huge deal in a game like this.”
Scifres said the game plan was to spread the carries around.
“Patrick is heck of a football player, and we didn’t get him the reps we should have last week,” Scifres said. “Our intent was to rotate those two guys. It serves two purposes — it keeps fresh legs in the game and it keeps them safe from injury.”
Senior Nate Fischer had 17 yards on five carries, including picking up a first down that sealed the victory.
“He did a nice job, ran really hard and ran like a senior,” Scifres said.
Rebels senior quarterback Derek O’Connor competed 15 of 17 passes for 112 yards.
“He makes good decisions and reads defenses well,” Scifres said. “He’s good at scrambling and making things happen with his feet, too.
Arnold had previously scored on a 9-yard TD run with 10 seconds to go in the first half for the Flashes’ other score.
Overall, Scifres was pleased with the effort.
“Anytime you are 2-0 after two games, you have to like the better part of that,” Scifres said. “We had a couple of long plays called back, a play right down to the 1-yard line. We ended up getting a (29-yard field goal by Patrick Sandler). We’ve got to clean up the mental mistakes. We’ve got to erase those to get to be where we want to be by tournament time.”
Flashes coach Grant Lewis said his squad was hampered by mental errors as well.
“We had some strong performances on both sides of the ball,” Lewis said. “We just got to piece it together and play as a team.”