Early misfires on offense came back to haunt Indian Creek, which fell 48-38 to visiting Sullivan in the Western Indiana Conference championship game Friday.
The Braves, who ran the table in the WIC’s East Division, marched down the field each of the first two times they had the ball, but both drives stalled in Sullivan territory, the second on the Golden Arrows’ 8-yard line.
Sullivan, meanwhile, didn’t have the same problem. Other than a fumble and the last drive of the half, the Arrows scored every time they had the ball and built a 28-8 lead midway through the second quarter.
“We knew coming in that they were a very good offense. They’re dynamic. They can run the ball and they can throw the ball efficiently,” Indian Creek coach Brett Cooper said. “It was nothing that we hadn’t seen. They just came out and executed to a high level.”
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Sullivan (8-1) scored on the first play of the game when quarterback Jack Conner ran 57 yards for a 7-0 lead. Indian Creek (6-3) tried to answer and drove to the Sullivan 21-yard line, but Taylor Voris’ fourth-down pass fell short.
The Arrows responded with another quick drive, getting a 48-yard scoring pass to Dakota Caton to go ahead 14-0.
The Braves’ next series stalled on the Sullivan 8, but Creek got a reprieve when Caton fumbled and Dylan Sprong returned it to the 18-yard line. Three plays later, Avery Welch was in the end zone with a 10-yard run. The junior added the two-pointer to close the gap to 14-8.
Sullivan scored the next two times it had the ball to push the lead to 20, but Indian Creek responded, going 72 yards on nine plays in just under a minute and a half and closing the gap to 28-16 on Voris’ 20-yard pass to Isaiah Lacey and a Welch two-point run.
A Welch 43-yard run pulled the Braves to within 28-22 early in the second half, but Sullivan answered every Indian Creek score with one of its own to keep the Braves at arm’s length.
After another Sullivan score, Voris hit Dustin Sprong with an 18-yard pass to close the gap to 35-30 with 1:16 left in the third.
“This game is about adversity and that’s why it’s the greatest game to play,” Cooper said. “It’s not always going to be pretty. And how you answer the call, win, lose or draw, is a demonstration of your character. And I thought our kids battled for 48 minutes tonight and we just came up short.”
Indian Creek couldn’t get any closer. Sullivan again scored, and after the Braves turned the ball over on downs, the Arrows scored on the very next play to push the lead to 48-30 with just over six minutes to play.
The Braves tacked on a score late on a 29-yard pass from Voris to Lacey.
Welch rushed for 168 yards on 27 carries. Voris was 19 for 34 passing for 239 yards and three scores.