Eric Moore’s halftime talk to his players Friday night likely can be categorized as more of a shout.
Following Center Grove’s 51-7 victory at Pike, Moore would only reveal that, “I got after them aggressively.”
Trailing the winless Red Devils, 7-6, late in the second quarter, the state’s fourth-ranked team in Class 6A struck for 45 consecutive points to spoil Pike’s homecoming festivities.
Center Grove is 6-1 overall. It remains in the chase for a Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference title with a 5-1 mark.
Seniors Russ Yeast and Trevor Hohlt rushed for 139 and 101 yards, respectively. The Trojans’ wing-T offense by the final horn had run the football 47 times for 424 yards and six touchdowns.
A total of 10 different players carried the football for Center Grove.
As bad as Moore’s team looked in the first half, it hit on all cylinders in the third quarter to blow the game open and cease any discussion of a possible upset.
“We had a good nine-and-a-half minutes. Other than that I have no idea who that football team was. I didn’t even recognize them,” Moore said. “In that third quarter we were like we should be. We were pretty close to unstoppable and the defense was awesome.
“The first half the offense was totally inept. We can’t win the next five games with penalties and holds and jumping offsides … just bad offensive play. We’ve got to straighten that out.”
Sophomore Luke Eckart’s 41-yard field goal from the right hash mark with 0.7 seconds left in the second quarter gave the Trojans a 9-7 halftime lead.
Pike had gone ahead by a point with 57.8 seconds left on a 60-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Jordan Garrett to wideout Keith Allender.
Center Grove began the ensuing possession on its own 35. Aided by a pair of pass interference calls on Pike, the Trojans got the football to the Red Devils 24 when Eckart split the uprights.
The Trojans opened the scoring by marching 19 yards in five plays. Center Grove’s series was set up by Pike delivering a 1-yard punt deep in its own territory. Titus McCoy’s 1-yard blast up the middle had Center Grove ahead 6-0.
By night’s end, McCoy and Yeast both had two rushing touchdowns. Triston Clark and Cam Petty also contributed with second-half scoring runs of 12 and 20 yards, respectively.
Center Grove’s other points came on a 68-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jack Kellams to senior receiver Tyler Boyer.
“I think we just came out flat and didn’t execute our gameplan as well as we should have,” Hohlt said. “We went inside at halftime and made some adjustments. We just needed to play Center Grove football. It’s blocking and tackling.”