Getting defensive: Meyer pulls off rare feat with two Friday safeties
The safety is a somewhat rare occurrence in the course of a football game, normally happening to teams once or twice a season if they’re lucky.
Not very often does a team use this rarity to break a game open, but that’s exactly what Greencastle — specifically senior defensive end Jacob Meyer — did in last week’s 21-13 win over Cloverdale.
The Tiger Cubs took their first lead of the game at 14-7 with 1:36 left in the third quarter, and increased that margin to 18-7 on a pair of Meyer safeties in the first 7:02 of the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
“The first one I knew was coming my way,” Meyer said after practice on Tuesday. “Trever Wood pushed [Tyce Jackson] outside, and he came right at me. It was a great all-around play. Trever really helped me a lot”
Meyer admitted “it felt great” to get that safety, and it was hard to believe that just over six minutes later the same scenario played out.
“On the second one, the quarterback [Drew Boyette] was rolling out and Trey Wood forced him outside, and I was right there again,” Meyer said. “I didn’t know what happened, because I thought he threw the ball off. Brayden Bollman said ‘yes, it’s a safety’ and I just took off running down the sidelines toward my dad [head coach Mike Meyer]. He was really proud of me; it felt so good.”
While the Wood brothers received the initial credit for Meyer’s accomplishment, another player was also a key factor in both plays.
“Alex Costin got off two perfect punts and forced them deep in their territory,” Meyer noted.
Meyer also plays receiver on offense, but the Tiger Cubs have run a lot more than they have passed so far this season — putting scoring opportunities on pass plays at a minimum.
He prefers the safety, even though it accounts for fewer points.
“It’s way better than getting a touchdown,” Meyer said. “I love playing defense. You can get a touchdown pass all the time, but you rarely get an opportunity to get a safety.”
The Tiger Cubs did not capitalize after getting the ball following the first safety, but turned the second one into a 27-yard field goal by Evan Crowe for a 21-7 lead with 49 seconds left.
The Clovers added a late touchdown, but the damage had been done.
“The safeties definitely changed the momentum of the game,” Meyer said. “After the first one, I saw [Cloverdale’s] spirits just drop. Their morale went low. After the second one, they were dead and didn’t have much left in them.”
The infrequency of the double safeties was not lost on Meyer.
“I don’t know if anybody has ever done that before,” Jacob Meyer said. “That’s hard to do .... two safeties.”
After consultation with the Indiana High School Athletic Association, the Indiana Football Coaches Association and Indiana historian John Harrell, no records could be found for safeties recorded in a single game.
So at worst, Meyer — with the help of his teammates — set an unofficial state record on Friday.
Coach Meyer agreed with his son on the importance the two safeties played in the win.
“We needed a little help, and they were huge plays,” he said. “We got a great punt from Alex and we pinned them down there.
“They were running away from [standout lineman] Gavin Bollman and toward Jake, and we had been talking about it all week,” coach Meyer added. “He got off the ball well and made a couple of nice plays. In our defense, if you’re doing your job you’re going to make big plays and Jake did that.”
Coach Meyer also recognized the huge strategic advantage that came with the safeties.
“We got the ball back and we also got field position back,” he said. “If we don’t get those safeties, it’s probably a different ballgame.”
The first two weeks for the undefeated Tiger Cubs are now history, and their focus is on hosting Western Indiana Conference rival West Vigo on Friday.
The Tiger Cubs defeated the Vikings twice last year, each time by three points.
“I’ve been looking forward to this game since last year,” Jacob Meyer said. “They are a really good team and have a really good quarterback [Jake Lautenschlager], and we have a great rivalry. We can’t wait.”