All season long, Greencastle football coach Mike Meyer has been waiting for his young squad to mature. On Friday night, he may just have seen it happen in one game.
After allowing a South Vermillion touchdown on the games opening possession, the Tiger Cubs shut down the Wildcats, scoring 41 unanswered points to defeat South Vermillion 41-6 and capture their first victory of the season. GHS is 1-3.
"I was real happy with the way we controlled the ball," Meyer said. "We didn't turn the ball over. We had minimal penalties. We improved on some of what was hurting us up to this point.
"The kids are getting confident," he continued. "They're starting to believe in themselves, and they're having some fun."
At the outset, it looked like more of the same from weeks 1-3 for the Tiger Cubs. Wildcat quarterback Andy Walsh came out throwing the ball well and having his way with the GHS pass defense. The sophomore was 6-for-7 for 82 yards in the opening drive. The last eight of these yards came on a touchdown strike to Aaron Perschbachef. With a missed extra point, the Wildcats led 6-0.
For their parts, the Tiger Cubs couldn't make much happen in the first quarter. They ran just six offensive plays in the opening quarter for a total of 19 yards. One drive ended in a punt, another in a lost fumble.
"In their first series they scored, then we came out at stumble-bummed around a little bit," Meyer said. "We came out a little flat, but then we picked it up and kept going."
The first place the Tiger Cubs picked it up was defense. While the Wildcats continued to pick up yards, Greencastle began taking advantage of key plays. They forced a fumble to end South Vermillion's second drive.
Unfortunately, the Tiger Cubs turned around and fumbled right back.
The game really began to turn on the opening play of the second quarter. South Vermillion went for it on a fourth-and-nine, but GHS forced the incompletion.
At that point Greencastle's one-two backfield punch began to take over. Drew Evens and Kendall Faust shared most of the Tiger Cub workload throughout the evening. While Evens ended up gaining 182 yards, to Faust's 86, it was the duo tandem that really did in the Wildcats. Faust, who missed the first game and saw limited action in game two, really began to come into his own Friday. In turn, so did Evens.
An eight-play Wildcat drive followed, but ended with another turnover-on-downs, this one at the Greencastle 34.
The Tiger Cubs began marching again. Besides one incomplete pass, the Tiger Cubs put the ball back in the hands of the running backs. Faust had the highlight of the drive, a 31-yard bruising run in which the Wildcats had him wrapped up in the backfield, only to let him slip away.
When the drive stalled at the South Vermillion 13, Deer kicked a 30-yard field goal to put his team up 10-6.
Deer closed the first half scoring with an impressive 45-yarder as time expired, giving GHS a 20-6 halftime lead.
Meyer didn't mess around after the intermission, knowing what had gotten his team into the lead. He simply followed his game plan -- run the ball and keep South Vermillion's passing attack off the field. In this spirit, the Tiger Cubs did not attempt a pass in the second half.
"They have some really good athletes, and I knew we could control the clock and keep them off the field. We did a nice job with it," Meyer said.
The third quarter was the Tiger Cubs' most productive offensively. Evens rushed seven times for 122 yards in the quarter. Sophomore quarterback Jordan Hickam, who came in as the Tiger Cubs began to institute the rushing-only attack, ran three times for another 25. Evens collected two touchdowns in the quarter, the final for 29 yards. Faust took one in of his own from two yards out.
The Tiger Cubs completely broke the game open in the quarter, scoring 21 more points to make the lead 41-6 at the end of three.
"The kids did a nice job. The linemen blocked, we came off the ball, we saw something, we just kept taking it," Meyer said.
In the fourth, the ball control continued. The Tiger Cubs had only one fourth-quarter possession, but in it they rushed 12 times for 64 yards with mostly junior varsity players. Although the drive ended with a turnover-on-downs, they had eaten 7:42 off the clock.
Taking over with 2:04 remaining, the Wildcats could manage nothing. Time expired three plays later.
Meyer was simply happy to see his team avoid the mistakes that have plagued them early in the year. His team held on to the ball, had fewer penalties and basically stopped shooting itself in the foot.
"We just want to kind of build off this and get them rolling," Meyer said. "We have South Putnam (next week), and that's a whole different thing because now you got a rival, now you got somebody who's gonna come after you.
"Coach Burgess is doing a good job up there, so you know they're going to be ready to play," Meyer continued. So we gotta keep building on the good things and keep having fun doing what we're doing."
The Tiger Cubs travel to South Putnam at 7 p.m. next Friday.
South Vermillion 6 0 0 0 -- 6
Greencastle 0 21 20 0 -- 41
SV -- Walsh to Perschbachef 8 pass (Kick failed) 7:03
GHS -- Evens 10 run (Deer kick) 9:35
GHS -- Deer 30 yard FG 2:53
GHS -- B. Robinson 20 interception return (Deer kick) 2:40
GHS -- Deer 45 yard FG 0:00
GHS -- Faust 2 run (Deer kick) 9:40
GHS -- Evens 3 run (Deer kick) 8:23
GHS -- Evens 3 run (Deer kick) 0:52
First downs -- SV 15, GHS 18
Fumbles-lost -- SV 1/1, GHS 2/1
Penalties-yards -- SV 5/55, GHS 6/57
South Vermillion (2-2):
Rushing -- (22 carries, 63 yards) -- Peelman 2-2, Walsh 6-19, Mitchell 9-42, Mumaw 1-1, McGaha 1-11, Hixon 2-2, Frazier 1-(-14).
Passing -- (18-37-1-1, 288 yards) -- Walsh 18-37-1-1, 288 yards.
Receiving -- (18 catches, 288 yards) -- McGaha 5-69, Mumaw 4-46, Perschbachef 3-73, Byram 1-27, Mitchell 1-4, Peelman 1-1, Caylor 2-31.
Greencastle (1-3, 0-2 WCC):
Rushing -- (43 carries, 359 yards) -- Evens 16-182, Faust 12-87, Hickam 3-25, Richardson 7-46, No. 13 5-17.
Passing -- (2-5-0-0, 15 yards) -- Shuee 2-5-0-0, 15 yards.
Receiving -- (2 catches, 15 yards) -- Faust 1-8, Birt 1-7.
Next game -- Greencastle travels to South Putnam at 7 p.m. next Friday. South Vermillion is at West Vigo at 7 p.m. next Friday.