News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

September 18, 2011

North Central tops North Knox at Memorial Stadium

TERRE HAUTE — Kody Basinger made two huge pass receptions — and three big catches in all — in the last three minutes of a Southwest Seven Conference high school football game Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium as North Central remained unbeaten with a 25-21 win over North Knox.

Basinger’s second reception created the fifth lead change with 1:03 left in the second game of the 2011 Jay Barrett Foundation Wabash Valley Classic, but he still had one catch left. He intercepted a long pass by Tyler Mundy of the Warriors with 13 seconds left to clinch the win.

“It was a good game. The kids played hard,” coach Travis Nolting of the Thunderbirds said after the game. “I think we proved we won’t go away … we came out a little flat, but I liked our effort at the end.”

North Central hadn’t beaten North Knox since 2006 and had been outscored by the Warriors by more than 100 points during the past three seasons.

And when the Thunderbirds did come out tentatively, North Knox took advantage with a three-and-out defensive series, then a 48-yard touchdown drive capped by Zach Stephens’ 12-yard run.

North Central finally got its offense going late in the first quarter and dominated the last 13 minutes of the first half. Big runs by quarterback Zach Lyday and running back Chase VanSchoyck keyed a 60-yard, 10-play drive, and a 50-yard pass from Lyday to Dillon Bailey was the big play in a 69-yard, eight-play drive, both of them capped by quarterback sneaks.

The T-Birds nearly increased that 12-7 lead in the waning seconds of the half. North Knox had driven to the North Central 36-yard line but faced fourth down, and Jacob Howell attempted a 53-yard field goal. The unsuccessful kick was fielded at the goal line by Bailey, who weaved his way upfield for 98 yards — the halftime buzzer sounding as he did — only to be knocked out of bounds at the 2-yard line.

North Central no doubt wished it had gotten a chance to take advantage of that, because its third quarter started badly. North Knox drove to the North Central 3-yard line only to be stopped by a Dante Rehmel fumble recovery, but then the teams traded two more fumbles and Stephens took advantage of the North Central bobble to score on a 27-yard run.

North Central got some offense going late in the third quarter, VanSchoyck bouncing a run to the outside and gaining 36 yards to set up a touchdown — Lyday’s third quarterback sneak — for an 18-14 lead with 11:15 left in the game.

North Knox then put together a methodical seven-minute, 15-play drive. North Central’s defense — which got two big sacks from R.J. Miller and some important tackles for loss from Anthony Risley during the game — got stubborn near the goal line, but Mundy completed a fourth-down pass to fullback Brennen Duke for a touchdown with 4:30 left that put the Warriors back on top. To add to North Central’s pressure, VanSchoyck was injured running back the ensuing kickoff and was unavailable for his team’s final offensive drive.

 Two short runs made it third-and-3 for the T-Birds, and Lyday rolled to his left and lofted the ball over a defender to Basinger. The 66-yard completion gave North Central first-and-goal at the 7.

“It was just a corner route,” Basinger said later. “Zach put a good ball there for me, and the offensive line help up long enough for him to do that … I kind of ran out of gas [before being caught from behind short of the end zone].”

If it appeared the Thunderbirds were in great shape to put the game away, it didn’t take long for that feeling to go away. A fumble — Lyday diving on it to save disaster — and a sack set up third-and-13.

“We had the big play from Kody,” Lyday said later. “Then there was the fumble … but we did what we needed to do.”

The third-down play was very similar to the 66-yard gain moments earlier. Basinger lunged to make the catch and his momentum carried him over the goal line. “Zach led me a little bit too much,” Basinger said with a smile afterward. “I had to do something to speed you up,” Lyday retorted.

Two plays later, Basinger had his third interception of the season. “The coaches said, ‘Don’t let anybody behind you,’ Basinger said. “I just told myself, ‘I’ve got to catch this ball to end the game, so we can go home 5-0.’ ”

“We do what we do, and we will not quit,” said Nolting, whose team was without two regulars the entire game and without its leading rusher for the final drive. “We’ll fight to the last blow. North Knox has a great program, so this game says a lot about our kids and how resilient they’ve become.”

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Lyday agreed. “[The Warriors] are definitely the best team [we’ve played so far]. I’m just happy we stepped up for our community.”

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