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Green's TD run lifts Lafayette Jeff - Turnover sets up winning drive against McCutcheon
September 4, 2012Lafayette Jefferson High School
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In the rugged Hoosier Crossroads Conference, Tippecanoe County’s rivalries mean more than bragging rights.
Thanks to a pair of juniors — a defensive back looking for redemption and a running back emerging as a game-breaker — Lafayette Jeff defended its county supremacy on Friday night.
Mitchell Sterner’s fourth-quarter interception in the end zone set up Darian Green’s 72-yard go-ahead touchdown run, and Lafayette Jeff survived McCutcheon’s final drive for a 29-23 victory at Ellison Stadium.
“It means a lot, because we get to own the county two years in a row,” said Green, who scored twice on a 196-yard rushing night. “We just came out here and played hard. At the beginning, we had a little ups and downs, but in the second half, we came back and we were relaxed and more focused and we came out here and did what we were supposed to do.”
Lafayette Jeff (2-1 overall and in the HCC) won its fifth straight against a county rival. The Bronchos defeated Harrison and McCutcheon back-to-back for the second straight season.
Green’s touchdown run was the game’s fifth score directly off a turnover. McCutcheon (0-3, 0-3) turned two Jeff fumbles into touchdowns to lead 14-0, led 17-14 at halftime and went up 23-14 when Matt Marencik and Jack Beeker connected for a 57-yard touchdown to open the second half.
McCutcheon responded to Green’s run by driving to the Jeff 20. On fourth-and-8, Marencik attempted to connect with Nate Deno on a wheel route, but the junior couldn’t corral the pass in the end zone despite a diving attempt.
“Big-time players come up with big-time plays, and it was crunch time and we didn’t get it,” said Deno, who totaled 86 offensive yards. “It’s just a heartbreaker.”
One week after rushing for 220 yards and four touchdowns against Harrison, Green again put on a show. But just like the fake-punt direct-snap run that sealed the Harrison victory, Green’s last run was the most crucial run.
Leading 23-21, McCutcheon reached the Broncho red zone with under six minutes to play. On second-and-4 at the Jeff 19, Marencik looked for Josh Coston in the end zone. But Sterner, who missed a chance at an interception earlier in the drive, stepped in front of the pass and picked it off for a touchback.
“I had to make up for the dropped one,” Sterner said. “Everybody just covered their zone; I played my zone, got in the receiver’s hip pocket. I saw the ball my way and just had to fight for it.”
On the second play of Jeff’s ensuing series, Green took a handoff up the middle, glided toward the sideline, stalled for a moment in traffic, then cut back inside and was gone. Carl McQuay made a one-armed grab of Matt Johnson’s 2-point conversion pass, and suddenly the Bronchos led 29-23.
“I’m speechless,” Deno said. “You can’t just watch someone run 70 yards and win the game for the other team. We should have won.”
After Beeker’s touchdown catch, Green’s 99-yard kickoff return touchdown was negated by penalty. So were two touchdown runs on the drive: one by Green, one by Johnson. The Bronchos finally scored when Johnson threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Tim Wilson to cut the Maverick lead to 23-21.
Jeff coach Andy Kennedy noticed a new resiliency in his team.
“I thought our defense, the first two weeks, they would have folded up,” Kennedy said. “They would have probably fought and bickered with each other a little bit. But tonight, you really saw them come together.”