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Junior's picks, receptions lift Braves past Beech Grove

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As Indian Creek’s leading receiver, junior Brenden Smith does his part to catch passes on offense.

But he also snags them on defense.

Smith caught four passes for 76 yards and a touchdown and recorded two interceptions to help lead the Braves to a 28-8 victory against visiting Beech Grove in a Class 3A sectional semifinal game Friday night.

With the win, the Braves advance to next Friday’s championship game at Greensburg (9-2).

“He’s become just really a force back there at safety for us,” Indian Creek football coach Mike Gillin said. “The first half of the season, going both ways for us, the heat was bothering him a little bit. But these last five or six weeks, he’s turned into one great free safety.

And of course, he’s our go-to guy on offense also.”

Smith’s receiving skills have been a key part of Indian Creek’s success this season.

Against the Hornets (5-6), he caught a 34-yard reception in the first quarter when he threaded the sideline, jumped high for the catch and kept his feet in bounds.

A few plays later, senior quarterback Matthew Wray, who completed 11 of 24 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown, scored on a 1-yard run.

Then Wray hooked up with Smith on a 21-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter.

But Smith’s defensive play was equally effective.

His first interception came late in the first quarter, the last of three first-quarter Beech Grove turnovers. His second came early in the third.

The Hornets had 212 rushing yards, but Indian Creek held them scoreless until the final 1:18 of the game by forcing five turnovers.

“All in all, I thought our defense was really good tonight,” Gillin said. “A little bend, don’t break defense.”

Late in the first quarter, sophomore running back Dokken Egenolf, who ran 27 times for 137 yards, had a 40-yard touchdown run that featured several shifty cuts and broken tackles. Senior Morgan Morrison also had a pair of 24-yard field goals in the first half to help Indian Creek to a 21-0 halftime lead.

“Going up three scores was big right before halftime,” Gillin said.

The Braves started the season 0-2, but since then they have earned nine straight victories. The two-time defending champions are in the sectional final for the fourth straight year.

Indian Creek beat Greensburg in last year’s title game.

“I know they are really hungry for us,” Gillin said. “It’s going to be interesting. We’ll see. I’m excited. We’ve done what we set out to do. We’re in the sectional championship game.

“Hopefully, the weather will cooperate, and we’ll have a good night to play football.”

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