NEW CASTLE — On Oct. 12, 1979, New Castle defeated Kokomo 47-7 in football to earn its 10th overall win in the teams’ series.
The Trojans may never score their 11th.
With New Castle officially gone from the North Central Conference, Kokomo’s visit to New Castle on Friday was likely the final game in the series between the rivals that dates back to 1930. It ended as the previous 33 games did — with a Kokomo win, this one by a 32-6 score.
“Talking about give yourself a boost, that’s big,” Kokomo coach Brett Colby said. “The conditions made it so we couldn’t throw [Friday] and they ran a similar defense as Huntington did last week, so we had a pretty good idea how to block it. As for it being the final game, the kids were kind of feeling the pressure about not being the team that gave up that streak.”
Kokomo’s Bo Baker rushed for a career-high 242 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries. He notched all four scores for the Wildkats and also had a pair of two-point conversions. Kokomo had its best offensive output of the season with 32 points.
Defensively, Fletcher Miller finished with 17 tackles, just two short of a school record. Freshman Brevin Beard was huge from his safety position with 11 tackles, seven them solos as he was excellent at stopping ball-carriers in the open field.
Using Colby’s compact wing-T offense, the Wildkats kept the ball on the ground and racked up 332 yards. Jordan Rawlins got Kokomo into excellent field position on the game’s opening drive with a 63-yard kick return to the Trojan 33 on the game’s opening drive.
Given the short field, Baker was able to cash in. Just four plays after the return, he rushed right and scored from 16 yards. He then added the two-point conversion as Kokomo led 8-0 less than two minutes into the game.
The Kats then got a stop and appeared to be well on their way to a bigger lead when they marched 76 yards in 19 plays to the New Castle three yard line. Baker had a touchdown called back on a penalty and Rawlins was stopped at the three on fourth down. The drive killed most of the second quarter clock and Kokomo led just 8-0 at halftime.
“It was a nice opening drive with the kickoff that took it down there and we got a little comfortable with it being 8-0,” Colby said. “It really should have been 16-0, but we couldn’t cap the second drive. The field was pretty bad out there so we didn’t even practice extra points. ... It worked out in the end though because we were 4-for-4 on two-point attempts.”
Kokomo took advantage of a New Castle turnover midway through the fourth quarter to punch in its second score. New Castle fumbled the ball on its own 12 yard line and Daniel Culbertson recovered to once again give the Kats good field position. Once again, Baker scored, this time seven yards, and added the conversion to make it 16-0.
After another defensive stop, Kokomo got the ball back on its own 34 yard line and Baker had his first of two big gains. He took a pitch around the right end and dashed 65 yards for his third touchdown of the game on the first play of the fourth quarter. Jordan Holloman added the two-point conversion to make it 24-0.
New Castle was able to answer with its only score of the game on the next drive. The Trojans went 93 yards in 10 plays and Damon Dailey had a 22-yard touchdown, but the two point conversion failed.
“We just missed some tackles on that drive and it ended up costing us the shutout,” Colby said. “Overall I was happy with the second-half effort. I feel like this was a big step forward for us offensively and we needed to take that step badly.”
Baker’s fourth and final touchdown came on another big run after New Castle’s score. This time he scored from 60 yards and Beard added the two-point conversion for the final margin.
Now on a two-game winning streak, Kokomo hosts Richmond next week seeking revenge for the loss last season that broke its 39-game NCC win streak.