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McCutcheon football holds off Lafayette Jeff, 18-15
September 20, 2013Lafayette Jefferson High School
The last time McCutcheon won even two of its first three games, a quarterback named Clayton Richard was still under center.
The current San Diego Padres starting pitcher put up some gaudy passing numbers while leading the Mavericks to an 8-0 start in 2002. Over a decade later, McCutcheon is again making noise in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference with a versatile ground game, a solid defense and difference-making special teams play.
All three factored into the Mavericks’ 18-15 victory over Lafayette Jeff at Scheumann Stadium on Friday. McCutcheon snapped a two-game losing streak to the rival Bronchos heading into next week’s annual battle for The Sword with Harrison.
“It gets our confidence up, beating a crosstown rival like that,” said Deno, who rushed for 147 yards and scored a 61-yard touchdown run on the game’s second play from scrimmage. “Knowing we didn’t fold under pressure, that’s a big victory for us. It’s just good to beat the Bronchos today.”
This was supposed to be a matchup of two dynamic rushing attacks, with Deno and Blake Elming facing off against Lafayette Jeff’s Darian Green and Matt Johnson. Green carried 27 times for 236 yards and a touchdown, shouldering the offensive load after fellow Ball State recruit Johnson left the game late in the first quarter with a hip injury and did not return.
Jeff senior cornerback Mitchell Sterner said he prepared at quarterback all week because of a lingering shoulder injury Johnson suffered the previous week against Harrison. But the absence of the athlete recognized for his 100-meter dash state championship at halftime hurt a Broncho offense that hurt itself with poor shotgun snaps and untimely penalties.
“Just a couple of plays — that’s all that separates this game from being a win and a loss,” Sterner said. “We started slow, but then we came out in the last three quarters and we played Broncho football and we played Broncho defense. That’s what wins games, not the first-quarter (mistakes).”
Shake’s 37-yard field goal with 8:07 left in the third quarter put McCutcheon (2-1 overall and in the HCC) up 18-7. With 1:10 left in the quarter, he attempted a 57-yarder that had the distance but just missed wide left. The senior, in only his second season of football, also put all four of his kickoffs in the end zone for touchbacks and flipped field position with his punting.
Green did return one of Shake’s punts 62 yards for a touchdown, but it was negated by a holding penalty. Early in the third quarter, McCutcheon senior Jacob Wickes broke through to block a Jeff punt, which rolled out of the end zone for a safety.
“I just drove that guy back, got my way in and I just blocked it,” said Wickes, a defensive end who moved to the area from Virginia before last season. “I laid out for the ball and I knew I could get it.”
Lafayette Jeff (1-2) nearly took the lead going into halftime, with Green being knocked out of bounds at the McCutcheon 1-yard line on a first-down run. But the Bronchos immediately lost 10 yards on their third bad snap of the drive. On fourth-and-goal from the 2, Mavericks junior linebacker Lukas Robinson took Sterner down for a 6-yard loss.
The Bronchos turned the ball over on downs in the red zone again in the third quarter and lost despite outgaining McCutcheon 335-238 and posting 17 first downs to the Mavericks’ 10.
“I think we came out here with a better mindset than we did last week and we didn’t take anything for granted this week,” said Green, who had 10 runs of 12 yards or longer. “It’s just little minor plays that killed us. Coach (Andy Kennedy) told us all week that it’s all about technique, and it’s just those little plays that kill us.”
The game did not look like a defensive struggle early, with the rivals trading touchdowns on the game’s first three series.
Green’s 6-yard touchdown run capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive and tied the game 7-7. But Caleb Harper’s punt return gave the Mavericks a short field, and Jami Frier hit Elming for a 35-yard play-action touchdown pass and a 13-7 McCutcheon lead.
“You’ve got to win two of the three — offense, defense and special teams — and I think we won all three today,” Deno said.