Braves rally but fall short in loss to Tigers

FAIRLAND — Last week, shortly after Indian Creek blanked Brown County, Braves head football coach Mike Gillin expressed a bit of concern over his next opponent.

Gillin’s concerns proved valid, as Triton Central took advantage of five Indian Creek turnovers — two fumbles and three interceptions — plus a blocked punt, and held off an Indian Creek rally to take a 23-18 win over the Braves.

It was the first time the two had met since 2011 and the first time the Tigers (4-1) had beaten Indian Creek since 2008, when the two were foes in the Mid-Indiana Conference.

“We can’t turn the ball over five times against a good football team like that,” Gillin said. “Still, we put ourselves in a position to win the game, but we came up short on a few plays. I’m still proud of the guys though for coming back.”

Initially, Gillin didn’t seem to have much to cheer about.

Danish exchange student Mikkel Duus’ 40-yard field goal in the first quarter and Brandon Dunn’s 4-yard plunge early in the fourth appeared to be lone highlights for the Braves. However, a big stop by Indian Creek’s defense, some pinpoint passing by quarterback Taylor Voris and a 1-yard touchdown run by Cameron Elmore late in the fourth made Triton Central fans nervous.

The nerves nearly turned into panic when Indian Creek stopped the Tigers on a fourth-and-2 with 1:14 left, but three straight incompletions sealed the Braves’ fate at their own 21-yard line.

It didn’t take a football genius to know that the turnovers kept the Braves (2-3) from winning the game. What hurt worse than the turnovers was that three of those came in Triton Central territory, wiping away some potential scoring chances.

Tigers quarterback Jordan Crouse scored the first touchdown on a 5-yard keeper, but the most crowd-pleasing score came through some trickery.

Crouse threw what looked like a routine 10-yard pass to senior 6-6 Jacen Lands, but then Lands lateraled the ball to Ethan Demaree, who raced the remaining 52 yards untouched for the score.

Still, Indian Creek outgained the Tigers in total yards, 390-318. Voris passed for 266 yards.

“We’ve gotten better since the first game,” Gillin said. “We still have a major goal left, and that’s win the conference. If not for a few plays, we could have gone out of here with a win, but we know now that we can play with anyone.”

Ken Severson is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.