By Gary Johnson
COLUMBIA — Shelbyville Central took an early lead, saw it evaporate, before reclaiming the lead late in the game in a 29-27 victory at Columbia Central in a key Region 5 5-A matchup on Friday night.
“That’s a good football team we played and this is just an example that you have to come ready to play every game. Nothing was easy about this win and I’m proud of how our guys stayed focused and battled till the end,” Shelbyville Central coach Jud Dryden said.
“This was a game that everyone should have had fun with. Back and forth leads with a lot of big plays on offense and big stops on defense. Just a great high school atmosphere with a team that has a lot of tradition.”
There were six lead changes, with the Golden Eagles (3-1, 1-0) striking first when Ben Betzelberger capped off a 15-play opening drive with a 25-yard field goal that almost took eight minutes off the clock.
Columbia Central responded with a four-play drive that ended with a Kayden McCoy 1-yard run. Brian Whitehead connected on his first of three extra points for the 7-3 lead.
Shelbyville Central regained the lead on a 12-yard pass play to Bron Ransom from Nathan Delaughter to go up 10-7 at the 11:55 mark of the second stanza.
The Lions closed out the half with a 59 yard touchdown run by McCoy to hold a 14-10 advantage at the intermission.
Shelbyville Central scored first in the second half when Chandler rushed 14 yards to the end zone.
The kick put the Golden Eagles back in front 27-17.
l took control of the game from that point, scoring quickly on two big plays.
The first a 60-yard pass play to Jordan Davis from Cason Trice. The point after made the score 21-17.
McCoy rushed for his second TD of the game, a 70-yard sprint that increased the lead to 27-17 with 8:27 left to play.
“Those two big plays really hurt and we’ve got to do a better job of eliminating big plays. That is something we will continue to stress and work on,” Drydeny said.
Just when it looked like the Golden Eagles were in a bad situation, they did what they have done all season, responded in a positive way.
Shelbyville Central closed out the game with a pair of touchdowns to secure the victory.
Chandler scored on a 47-yard run to make the score 27-23.
On the ensuing kickoff, Betzelberger executed a perfect on-side kick then recovered it as well, giving the Golden Eagles the ball at their 35 yard line.
Six plays later, Delaughter ran six yards off left tackle for the game-winning score.
“What a great job by our special teams and especially Ben on that on-side kick. We saw something on film and was waiting for the right time to do it. That was a huge play in this game for sure,” Dryden said.
“We’ve got the heart, mentality and mental toughness of a championship team,” Dryden said.
“We’ve just got to limit our mistakes and put everything together each game. We cannot allow ourselves to have another night with those kinds of unforced errors.”
The Golden Eagles racked up 396 yards of total offense.
Chandler rushed for 148 yards on 14 carries while Robert Bailey added 72 yards on a dozen touches.
Delaughter connected on 9-of-12 passes for 100 yards.
McCoy led the Lions with 162 yards on the ground off 12 carries.
Shelbyville Central travels to face Wilson County in a non-region contest on Friday at 7 p.m.
Shelbyville Central 3 7 7 12 — 29
Columbia Central 7 7 7 6 — 27
SC — Ben Betzelberger 25-yard field goal, 4:08.
CC — Kayden McCoy 1 run (Brian Whitehead kick), 2:44.
SC — Bron Ransom 12 pass from Nathan Delaughter (Betzelberger kick), 11:55.
CC — McCoy 59 run (Whitehead kick), 11:04.
SC — Rocky Chandler 14 run (Betzelberger kick), 2:58.
CC — Jordan Davis 60 pass from Cason Trice (Whitehead kick), 0:48.
CC — McCoy 70 run (kick failed), 8:27.
SC — Chandler 47 run (kick failed), 6:35.
SC — Delaughtert 6 run (run failed), 3:16.