Boys Varsity Football
GREENWOOD, Ind. – Senior Jaylen Flemmons threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns while filling in at quarterback Friday night (Nov. 3), but his efforts were not quite enough as the Columbus North football team dropped a 20-14 decision at Center Grove for the championship of Class 6A Sectional 8.
Flemmons took over at QB after regular starter Trenton Kelley was injured on the game’s first possession, and the Bull Dogs had a chance to win until the game’s second-to-last play when Flemmons scrambled in an effort to make a big play but ultimately was intercepted by Trojans senior Tyler Watson at the CG 43 with 38.9 seconds to go.
With CN out of timeouts, Center Grove junior Jackson Moore knelt on the final play to run out the clock.
The Trojans (6-5) captured their seventh consecutive sectional crown, the program’s 13th overall and earned a spot in a 6A regional game at 7 p.m. next Friday (Nov. 10) at Avon (9-2). Columbus North finished 9-2.
Flemmons’ TD passes both went to senior J.D. Harris, who ultimately had nine receptions for 162 yards. The scoring plays covered 14 yards late in the first half and 16 yards with 4:25 remaining in the fourth quarter, the latter making it a six-point game and giving the visitors hope.
Center Grove produced one first down on the ensuing possession, but three more plays resulted in the hosts facing a fourth-and-3 from the CN 36. After each team took a timeout, the Trojans ultimately punted with junior P.J. Buck pinning the Bull Dogs at their 16 to begin their final drive with 2:09 to go.
A CG offsides penalty and passes to Harris and sophomore Hunter Huser moved the ball to the 50 before an incompletion. On third-and-3, a Blake Huffman draw went for no gain leaving CN a fourth-and-3 with less than a minute to go. Flemmons took the shotgun snap, moved to his left to avoid a rush, then circled back to his right before throwing on the run. Watson made a diving catch, preventing two CN receivers from getting to the ball and effectively ending the game.
Center Grove freshman Carson Steele ran for 125 yards and one touchdown, while junior teammate Gavin Matheson added 95 yards and another TD to pace the Trojans. Moore completed 5-of-10 passes for 71 yards as the hosts outgained the Bull Dogs 310-258 for the game.
Columbus North totaled 272 yards through the air with Kelley – who suffered a ruptured spleen after being hit on the CG sideline – passing for 7 yards before departing and junior Dylan England throwing for 6 yards when Flemmons was sidelined briefly with a leg cramp in the third quarter. But CN netted minus-14 yards on 17 running plays, Flemmons losing 31 yards on four sacks and losing a fumble on one of those plays. Senior Cortez Bandy paced the Bull Dogs’ ground game with 10 yards on five carries.
Center Grove got on the scoreboard first when junior Luke Eckert converted a 41-yard field goal with 4:31 left n the first quarter. The Trojans made it 10-0 early in the second quarter when Steele scored a 2-yard touchdown one play after he ran 32 yards on a three-play, 43-yard drive.
Matheson burst around left end for a 42-yard touchdown to cap another three-play drive, this one covering 54 yards later in the period. But Columbus North responded to that score, Flemmons passing to Harris for a 14-yard touchdown to cap a 12-play, 70-yard march.
The Trojans opened the second half with a long possession, but the drive stalled at the CN 6 and Eckert came on for a 24-yard field goal. Eckert later had two more field-goal attempts, but a 43-yarder against the wind late in the third quarter was wide left and a 40-yarder early in the fourth quarter was wide right.
The Bull Dogs made it a one-possession game when Flemmons went 4-of-6 on a drive that started at the CN 13, a 35-yarder to Harris and a 26-yarder to Terrell coming just before a 16-yard touchdown to Harris with 4:25 to go.
Columbus North was seeking the program’s fifth sectional championship to go with crowns previously won in 1989, 2004, 2006 and 2007.
At Center Grove
Columbus North ………….… 0 7 0 7 – 14
Center Grove ………………… 3 14 3 0 – 20
CG – FG Luke Eckert 41, 4:31 1Q
CG – Carson Steele 2 run (Luke Eckert kick), 9:18 2Q
CG – Gavin Matheson 42 run (Luke Eckert kick), 3:18 2Q
CN – J.D. Harris 14 pass from Jaylen Flemmons (Drew Wilson kick), 0:39 2Q
CG – FG Luke Eckert 24, 6:13 3Q
CN – J.D. Harris 16 pass from Jaylen Flemmons (Drew Wilson kick), 4:25 4Q
TEAM STATISTICS CN CG
First downs ........................ 14 13
Rushes-yards ................17-(-14) 50-239
Passing yards ................... 272 71
Comp-Att-Int ............... 21-45-2 5-10-1
Total yards ...................... 258 310
Fumbles-Lost .................... 2-1 0-0
Punts-average ............... 8-32.3 5-36.6
Penalties-yards ............... 9-85 8-79
Time of possession ........ 21:32 27:28
RUSHING – Columbus North: Cortez Bandy 5-10, Michael Johnson 2-4, Blake Huffman 2-(-4), Jaylen Flemmons 8-(-25). Center Grove: Carson Steele 26-125, Gavin Matheson 11-95, Sam Hohlt 6-17, Jackson Moore 7-2.
PASSING – Columbus North: Jaylen Flemmons 18-37-1, 259 yards; Trenton Kelley, 2-6-1, 7 yards; Dylan England, 1-2-0, 6 yards. Center Grove: Jackson Moore 5-10-1, 71 yards.
RECEIVING – Columbus North: J.D. Harris 9-162, Preston Terrell 3-39, Hunter Huser 3-23, Tristan Bailey 2-21, Michael Johnson 2-20, Jaylen Flemmons 1-9, Cortez Bandy 1-(-2). Center Grove: Sam Hohlt 3-50, Carson Steele 2-21.
MISSED FIELD GOALS – Columbus North: None. Center Grove: Luke Eckert, 43 (wl), 40 (wr).