Kokomo — Medieval English poet Geoffrey Chaucer coined the phrase “All good things must come to an end” in the mid-1300s. Seven hundred years later, Kokomo running back Michael Copeland refused to let it be Friday night at Walter Cross Field.
The senior ran for 199 yards and four touchdowns on 34 carries, lifting the Wildkats to a 42-28 win over Muncie Central for Kokomo’s 37th straight North Central Conference victory.
The 34 carries marked the fifth most for a single game in program history. Not bad for a kid who’s battled injuries for most of the first month of the season.
“I’ve been dealing with a pulled hamstring and have been sick and things like that, but I’ve just been working through it,” Copeland said. “I got to give all the credit to my offensive line. They were the ones that kept pushing and pushing, lifting me up and helping me out.”
Kokomo coach Brett Colby was glad to see Copeland step into the limelight.
“He’s a senior and he’s worked his tail off in the weight room over the winter and summer,” Colby said. “He’s been hampered with that hamstring, but this week he came to me said ‘Coach I’m fine, I’m 100 percent and ready to go.’ [This] is what he can do. He is that kind of player.”
The Kats found themselves in a dogfight with the Bearcats (0-3, 0-1) for most of the night. The squads traded scores throughout the first half, leaving the game tied 21-21 at the half.
Muncie tailback Tim Barrett scampered for 121 yards and a TD in the first half on 12 carries. He scored on a 35-yard dart to put the Bearcats up 28-21 with 4:33 to play in the third.
Kokomo’s defense stiffened after that however, holding Barrett to two yards the rest of the way while the Kats’ offense punched in three more scores — all five-yard runs by Copeland.
“It wasn’t pretty, but we played a better second half defensively,” said Colby, who improved to 36-0 in NCC games as the Wildkats’ coach. “I don’t know what was going on. We just had kids who weren’t aligned right, and it wasn’t like [Muncie] was doing anything we hadn’t prepared for. It’s going to be an interesting film session.”
Kokomo trailed 28-27 after a missed extra point with 1:16 left to play in the third, but recovered a Muncie fumble on the ensuing kickoff, one of three Bearcat turnovers. Copeland capped off a 32-yard drive five plays later, and ran in the two-point conversion to give the Kats (2-1, 1-0) their first lead of the night at 35-28 with 11:21 to play.
Bo Baker added 78 yards on the ground on 12 carries for Kokomo, while quarterback Tayler Persons finished with 48 yards and two TDs on six carries, scoring on a pair of one-yard sneaks.
Persons led the defense with 13 tackles, including eight solos, and an interception. Dylan Orbaugh added an interception for the Kats.