Center Grove football falls in state title game

<p>Center Grove’s football team put itself into an early hole this season by losing its first three games and four of its first five, only to battle back and reach the Class 6A state championship game.</p>
<p>That game played out much like the season as a whole, with first-half mistakes leaving the Trojans facing a 20-3 deficit going into the fourth quarter. The team fought back valiantly to make a game of it, but rival Carmel was able to hold off the late charge and preserve a 20-17 victory.</p>
<p>Center Grove finishes the season with an 8-6 record.</p>
<p>&quot;It’s sort of like our season,&quot; Trojans coach Eric Moore said. &quot;We started out and had to rebound back. But you know what? We got beat by a great Carmel team.&quot;</p>
<p>Center Grove took an early 3-0 lead on an Austin Watson field goal but turned the ball over on its next four possessions to allow the Greyhounds to take control of the action. The last of those giveaways — an interception returned into Trojan territory by Carmel’s Ty Wise — set up a field goal with 2 seconds remaining in the half that made it a 13-3 game at the break.</p>
<p>Austin Booker recovered a fumble to swing the momentum early in the third quarter, but the Trojans couldn’t cash in, and Carmel created some breathing room with a lengthy touchdown drive in the other direction, stretching its lead to 17 with 1:20 left in the period.</p>
<p>Undeterred, Center Grove stormed back, with sophomore quarterback Tayven Jackson connecting with Trent Veith and Mason Long on fourth-quarter touchdown passes. Down by just three with 3:24 remaining, the Trojans were unable to recover their onside kick attempt and the Greyhounds picked up two first downs to eat up the remaining clock.</p>
<p>&quot;Our offense definitely picked it up in the second half,&quot; sophomore defensive end Caden Curry said. &quot;We just didn’t succeed at the end, but I thought we fought hard; all we had, we left it on the field.&quot;</p>
<p><strong>More state championship coverage, B1</strong></p>