VEEDERSBURG, Ind. — Not even a 43-minute delay to fix a lighting issue in the middle of the first quarter of a classic battle between the Class A No. 2 North Vermillion Falcons and the No. 5 Fountain Central Mustangs could ruin the intensity that surrounded Friday’s Wabash River Conference showdown.
For the first time in five meetings, the Falcons defeated the Mustangs in last year’s regular season contest, and North Vermillion made it two in a row on Friday, defeating Fountain Central 42-35.
North Vermillion (8-0 overall, 6-0 in the WRC) extended its regular-season winning streak to 18 games, and is one win away from not only another WRC title, but completing back-to-back undefeated campaigns.
“It’s what you get when we have two football teams like we have right now,” North Vermillion coach Brian Crabtree said of the back-and-forth battle. “It’s all you could want out of a football game. Hats off to Fountain Central, too, because they didn’t win on the scoreboard but they certainly played really hard tonight.”
The two teams combined for eight total turnovers (seven interceptions, one fumble). Fountain Central quarterback Koby Pierce was picked off four times, but the most crucial of the interceptions came with one minute, 17 seconds to go in the third quarter.
North Vermillion led 28-21, and Fountain Central (7-1, 5-1) was set for a game-tying drive. North Vermillion’s Jacob Earl had other plans in mind. The sophomore defensive back read the Mustangs’ first play of the drive to perfection, snagged the interception, and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown to give the Falcons a 35-21 lead.
“They got me on that two times earlier in the game,” Earl said, “and I jumped it that time. I had a feeling it was coming so I just jumped under it. I’m glad I got it.”
It was only one of three touchdowns for Earl. He ran for two others and finished with 232 total rushing yards on 33 carries. North Vermillion quarterback Brayden Woodard kept the Fountain Central defense honest rushing for 175 yards.
“You don't have to watch film,” Fountain Central coach Brian Moore said. “They’re just so hard to tackle. Those two kids are just so darn talented, it’s incredible. It’s not like it’s just those two, they’ve got a lot of talented kids.
“That’s why you see the scoreboards blowing up every Saturday because of this type of offense when you get these kinds of kids in the spread offense. They spread you out. It’s a chess match and it’s tough. In the grand scheme of things, they have great, great talented athletes to run it, and it makes it so hard to defend them.”
Not to be out-done, despite throwing four interceptions, Pierce threw for 345 yards. All five of Fountain Central’s touchdowns were scored through the air with Trevor Loveall scoring three times on receptions of 46, 36, and 32 yards. Jared Fishero caught the other scoring pass for nine yards midway through the third quarter.
Loveall finished the game with eight catches for 157 yards.
Fountain Central made a late comeback effort when it pulled to within 42-35 with 1:42 remaining, but time ran out and the Falcons held on for the win.
“I think everybody that paid admission got their money's worth tonight,” Crabtree said.
Fountain Central will be on the road next week for the final game of the regular season taking on Rockville (6-2, 5-1), while North Vermillion will be back at home taking on Seeger (3-5, 3-3).
But, the battle between the WRC’s top two teams might not be completely over yet this season.
“What they're saying now is that we are going to get them again (in the sectional), “Crabtree said. “We understand that we have a tough road ahead of us. You want to win every single game, but you’re not content with a win like this. You look at ways where you can get better and improve because they’re going to be looking at what they can exploit the next time around.
“We've got a big one next week because if we can win next week we’ll close out another conference title. It’s been awhile since back to back conference championships.”
Wabash River Conference All times Eastern Conf. Overall Team W L W L North Vermillion 6 0 8 0 Fountain Central 5 1 7 1 Rockville 5 1 6 2 Attica 3 3 4 3 Seeger 3 3 3 5 Turkey Run 1 5 1 7 Covington 1 5 1 7 Riverton Parke 0 6 1 7 Friday, Oct. 11 results North Vermillion 42, Fountain Central 35 Rockville 63, Riverton Parke 0 Covington 16, Turkey Run 8 West Lafayette 47, Seeger 16 Saturday, Oct. 12 game Attica at Milford/Cissna Park, 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18 games Covington at Riverton Parke, 7 p.m. Fountain Central at Rockville, 7 p.m. Seeger at North Vermillion, 7 p.m. Turkey Run at Attica, 7 p.m.