Indian Creek football sees upset bid foiled late

Indian Creek welcomed a challenging opponent in Class 2A No. 5 Triton Central on its homecoming Friday night in Trafalgar, but the visitors played spoiler, defeating the Braves 49-35 in a high scoring affair that saw both teams come up with answer after answer until Indian Creek was unable to find one in the fourth quarter.

The first half featured 10 drives, seven of which ended in touchdowns. Triton Central (4-1) was the first to strike. The Tigers began at their own 48-yard line and methodically moved down the field, with quarterback Jace Stuckey doing most of the work. He rushed four straight times from the 13-yard line and punctuated the drive with a 2-yard touchdown score, putting the Tigers up 7-0 with 4:18 left in the first quarter.

The Braves (2-3) answered right back. They needed just five plays and 2 minutes and 30 seconds to drive 80 yards. Quarterback Jalen Sauer carried the load for the Braves on the drive. He bolted 50 yards on the first play, found receiver Bobby Emberton for an 18-yard completion and rushed the remaining 12 yards himself, capped off by a 5-yard rush into the end zone to tie the score with 1:47 left in the period.

The Braves defense forced a Triton Central punt on the next possession, but the return was fumbled and the Tigers recovered at the Indian Creek 28. It took only four plays for Triton Central to capitalize on the turnover, as running back Ray Crawford scored from 7 yards out to give the visitors a 14-7 lead less than a minute into the second quarter.

The ensuing kickoff was returned to the Triton Central 47 by Malachi Mink, once again putting Indian Creek back in business. After driving to the Tigers’ 19-yard line, the Braves faced a fourth and 1. Coach Casey Gillin then reached into his playbook and called for a reverse, which Jaxon Ramey took around the left side all the way to paydirt, tying the game at 14 with 8:21 left in the first half.

Triton Central was unfazed, however. After returning the kickoff to the 44-yard line, the Tigers once again put together an impressive offensive drive. In less than two minutes, Stuckey drove the offense down the field and found receiver Chase Chandler from 11 yards out for the touchdown, putting the Tigers back in front by seven with 6:47 remaining in the half.

The final two scores of the half belonged to the Braves. The first came on an impressive 24-yard scamper from Sauer on fourth and 2, tying the game at 21. The next came following a Triton Central fumble on its own 29-yard line. From there, Sauers once again found the end zone, this time from 10 yards out with just 30 seconds remaining for his third touchdown of the first half, to give the Braves a 28-21 halftime lead.

The offensive action did not slow after halftime. The Tigers came out of the locker room and drove right down the field on their opening possession, culminating in an 18-yard touchdown pass from Stuckey to Conner McClure that tied the game once again.

Like they did all night, the Braves answered right back, driving 76 yards to take the lead right back. After finding Emberton on a 29-yard pass to the 6, Sauer found him again for the score, putting the Braves back up 35-28 with 2:33 left in the third quarter.

But like it did all night, Triton Central had an answer. The Tigers once again drove down the field, marching 70 yards in seven plays, capped off by a Crawford 6-yard run to tie the score for the fifth time with 11:34 left to play.

The Tigers’ defense held on the Braves next possession, forcing a rare punt on this night. After taking over at its own 27, Triton Central found itself facing third and 17, but Stuckey found receiver Mason Compton for a first down to continue the drive. After another long carry by McClure moved the Tigers to the Creek 1-yard line, Stuckey snuck in for the touchdown, giving the Tigers the lead back, 42-35, with 7:27 left in the contest.

On the next Indian Creek possession, the Tigers’ defense once again stepped up, intercepting Sauer’s pass on third down to take over with 5:37 left. It appeared the Braves were in good position to get the ball right back, as Triton Central faced a third and 20 from its own 36 — but once again, Stuckey rescued the Tigers. He scrambled and broke away from the Braves’ defense, racing 64 yards for his second touchdown to ice the Triton Central victory with 4:07 remaining.