ARABIANS BOUNCE BACK IN WEEK TWO
By: Sam Sherman
A very rainy night at John Broughton Field in Pendleton, Indiana, proved to be no real issue for the Pendleton Heights Arabians. Just one week out from a blowout loss to the Muncie Central Bearcats, the Arabians wanted nothing more than to shine in their home opener against the Anderson Indians. Anderson was also coming off a loss, a 35-33 heartbreaker against Yorktown. By far the biggest story of the night for this game and games all across the state was the weather. Some matchups were cancelled and postponed, and others suffered sizeable delays. After a three hour delay for this particular game, kickoff time was set to 10:15pm. The rain and lightning didn’t drive the fans away, however. Both the Pendleton and Anderson student sections were nearly filled with lively and charismatic students cheering their schools on. Despite the muggy weather and poor conditions, both the Pendleton and Anderson fans and teams were ready to get this all-anticipated rivalry game underway.
The game began at 10:15pm, Pendleton kicking the ball off to the Anderson Indian offense. The first couple plays for Anderson were runs inside, with the Pendleton defense taking advantage of the slippery playing field. The first few Anderson plays ended up behind the line of scrimmage or advanced less than a yard. Once Anderson tried to start a passing game, Pendleton shut that down as well. The Pendleton defense had already started off on a much better foot than the week before, and it was now time for the offense to take control. Pendleton Heights’ Payton Huth rushed for 6 yards on the first play of the game, and quarterback Christian Conkling followed that up with a complete pass. However, the drive ended up nowhere after the good-looking start. The next Anderson set included a long passing touchdown, but a holding call on the Indians brought the play back. The Pendleton D forced the Indians to punt, but a successful fake play kept the offense on the field. The Arabians finally stopped Anderson, and the first quarter closed with no score.
At the start of the second quarter, the Arabians were at the 1-yard line when quarterback Christian Conkling walked the ball into the endzone for a touchdown. The Arabians led 7-0, their first lead of the season. It didn’t take long for the Anderson Indians to even the game out, however. Anderson drove down the field to answer with a 1-yard touchdown of their own to make it 7-7. Pendleton would eventually take the ball down to the 4-yard line, but fail to convert. The second quarter would then end at a tied 7-7 score. Poor weather conditions, missed offensive opportunities, penalties on both sides, and good tackling for both defenses all contributed to the low scoring half. A far different scenario from what both teams saw just a week ago.
The third quarter began slowly but picked up quickly. Anderson began the half with a plethora of penalties on defense, putting the game at a halt. Eventually, the Indian offense would get the ball back and be forced to punt yet again, this time calling another punt fake attempt. This attempt resulted in a fail, however, and the Arabians took the ball on downs. The very first play of the Arabian drive began the upswing of the quarter. Arabian quarterback Christian Conkling found receiver Jordan Kirkpatrick in the end zone on the first play, making it a 14-7 lead. The Indians then took the field and attempted to rattle the Arabians with a passing drive, but a throw tipped by an Anderson receiver fell into Pendleton sophomore Evan Douglas’ hands and gave the Arabians the ball in midfield after the beautiful interception. The momentum and confidence rolled with the Arabians as they drove the field yet again, allowing Pendleton halfback Payton Huth to rush into the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown. This put Pendleton at a 21-7 advantage. The Anderson Indians attempted to slow down the pace of the game on their next offensive set. They took their time in driving the field, but once they were near the goal line, Pendleton’s defense picked off Anderson once again. The following drive for the Arabians ended in the biggest play of the night and season so far, an 80-yard touchdown run by Pendleton senior Corbin Cox. As the Pendleton stands went wild, the Arabians led 28-7. With the Arabian defense letting up a bit, Anderson went down the field and scored a 5-yard passing touchdown. The PAT was blocked, however, and the third quarter closed with a 28-13 Pendleton Heights advantage.
The fourth quarter was relatively uneventful. Pendleton had a few good looking drives, as did Anderson. The biggest play of the quarter was Evan Douglas’ second interception of the night, but in the end, neither team scored. The game was called at 12:54am. The Arabians had won their first game of the season 28-13 against a rival in their home opener.
After a very messy first week, the Arabians showed clear signs that they had learned from their mistakes. Improvements in the rushing and passing game, added with clear improvements on the defensive side combined for a great game by the Arabians. Head coach Jed Richman winning his first game with Pendleton Heights should serve as a catalyst for a great season to come. In the first two weeks of the 2016 season, we’ve seen the Arabians’ weaknesses and strengths. As the Arabians travel to New Castle next week to face off against an inner-conference rival, we will see which trait the Arabians choose to continue with.