Going deep is a passing term in football. It’s also what Eric Moore found himself doing with his running game Friday.
With three of his top five ball carriers nursing injuries and therefore unavailable, the Center Grove coach had little choice but to insert 164 pounds of untested youth into the Trojans’ Wing-T offense.
The state’s No. 1 team in Class 6A didn’t miss a beat.
Senior quarterback Luke Calvert threw for 272 yards and touchdowns to three different targets, while freshman fullback Titus McCoy rushed for 49 and a score in Center Grove’s 42-10 crushing of defending Class 5A state champion Lawrence Central.
In a game that appeared much closer on paper than in reality, the fourth-ranked Bears offered no response whatsoever, as the Trojans improved to 5-0, having won all four of their Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference games.
Calvert flirted with the fringes of sensational, completing 12 of 18 attempts with no interceptions.
“Cool Hand Luke. He focuses the team and makes them all believe,” said Moore. “Guys go out and make plays for him. We have a freshman running back who had never had a (varsity) carry before. I knew the first quarter tonight was going to be really important.”
By scoring the game’s first 14 points Center Grove quickly sent a message. LC then had to attempt to play catch-up against a Trojans’ defense that would have none of it.
By halftime the advantage had been upped to 28-3. The only drama remaining would be the final count.
“Our offense is an all-weather offense. You deal with it,” said Moore of the soaked artificial surface. “It’s all about concentration.”
The Trojans managed 87 rushing yards. Not overly impressive, though not as necessary given the way Calvert was slinging the pigskin.
In all, there were five different Center Grove players credited with at least one reception. Senior Matt O’Brien, junior Devon Hensley and McCoy all recorded three each.
McCoy tumbled in from a yard out with only 2.3 seconds left before halftime to make it a 28-3 ballgame at intermission. The Trojans passed for 191 yards and rushed for another 23 in the opening half as opposed to an even-100 total yards for the Bears.
Center Grove won the coin flip prior to the game, but deferred with hopes of setting the tone defensively.
Such was the case. LC’s first three plays netted two yards, and the Trojans made the Bears pay by marching 69 yards in six plays on the ensuing series. Junior Max Norris handled the final seven yards, running wide right and going into the end zone untouched.
Lawrence Central’s second possession went backward, this time Center Grove’s offense allowed to set up shop at its own 44. Five plays were required, with Calvert’s 1-yard sneak making it 14-0 with 4:13 still to play in the first.
The Bears finally averted the shutout when sophomore left-footed kicker Nash Griffin split the uprights from 23 yards early in the second quarter.
Center Grove made sure the momentum was short-lived, producing two touchdowns in the final 2:48 of the half.
A gorgeous 37-yard over-the-shoulder reception by Hensley along the Bears sideline set up an 11-yard TD pass from Calvert to McCoy. A special teams’ blunder by Lawrence Central four plays later gave the Trojans the ball back at the Bears 34 at 1:07 of the second.
Calvert’s 26-yard pass to O’Brien and a 7-yarder to McCoy placed the ball at the 1. Titus then cashed in on fourth down with LC left with no time to respond.
Next up for Center Grove is a return to Lawrence Township, this time to face Lawrence North next Friday night.