By Sam Sherman

Last week, the Pendleton Heights Arabians lost a true heartbreaker to conference rival New Castle. This week, the Arabians rolled into Greenfield Central on their Homecoming in attempt to spoil the party and even out their record to (2-2). Maybe it was the minor details that came with the Greenfield Central squad, like their two starting running backs that averaged 10 yards a carry. Maybe it was the theatrics that the Greenfield presentation included, like a giant panther statue near one of the endzones, skydivers that flew in delivering the game ball, and the fact that fireworks went off after every score. No matter the reason, it seemed like Pendleton had quite the challenge facing them in this game.

The game began with a slow Greenfield offensive drive. The Cougars picked up one first down, but was eventually sent off the field by the Arabian defense. The first Arabian offensive set didn’t start well either, with  the first snap to sophomore quarterback Christian Conkling being sent over his head and recovered in the end zone by a Greenfield Central defender. Off went the fireworks. Just like that, the Cougars led 7-0. The following drive from Pendleton was far better and more consistent. A simple set up. Run on first and second down, then throw on third. This worked and the Arabians capped of a good looking drive with a 2 yard rush TD by senior Payton Huth. Sophomore kicker Thomas Quiroga’s extra-point attempt would be a fail, and Greenfield would lead 7-6. The next Greenfield drive was also good-looking. A good kickoff return and a long run down midfield drove the Cougars down the field, and allowed them to march into the endzone in just a couple plays and take a 14-6 lead. More fireworks. The Cougars kept this lead to the end of the first.

The Arabians began the second quarter with the ball, and on the second play, senior Payton Huth took the ball up the gut and kept it all the way to the house for a 40 yard Arabian touchdown. Quiroga would then miss his second PAT attempt, and Greenfield Central led the game 14-12. The next two drives for both the Arabians and Cougars weren’t flashy. Greenfield eventually sent a field goal through the uprights and led the game 17-12. Fireworks. The Arabians took their time with the next drive, which included a few good passes by Conkling and a new attack other than the ground game. Eventually, Conkling was sacked and the Arabians punted. With time dwindling down in the half, the Cougars decided to chew the clock down to 7.6 seconds when the threw a pass into the end zone for another touchdown followed by more incessant fireworks. The Cougars led 24-12 at halftime. Greenfield’s run game was seemingly unstoppable, and the Arabians couldn’t answer back with one of their own.

The third quarter included no scoring, but a few good looks by the Arabian squad. Certain plays like a one-handed diving catch by senior Jordan Kirkpatrick and a Greenfield fumble recovered  by Pendleton were the only highlights of the quarter. However, Greenfield would not let Pendleton capitalize on any of these advances and kept their 24-12 lead.

The fourth quarter began with some heavy rainfall and a good 75% of the Greenfield stands evacuating quickly. Pendleton saw this as an opportunity, at tried to attempt a possible comeback. Pendleton ran a good drive down the field, draining the clock down to the 7:11 mark when senior running back Payton Huth scored his third touchdown of the day. He then attempted the extra point, which somehow managed to bounce off of the uprights and fly right. The Cougars then led 24-18, forcing Pendleton to have to score a touchdown and make an extra point to win. Pendleton attempted their first onside kick of the season which was recovered by the Arabians. However, Pendleton’s luck seemed to run out from there. The Cougar defense stopped the Arabian offenses on all angles and got the ball back. They drove down the field very slowly and cut down much of the time left in the 4th quarter. Greenfield then had the ball on the Pendleton 40 and capped the game off with a rushing touchdown down the left side of the field. Greenfield led, and won, the game 31-18.

As Pendleton Heights falls to a (1-3) record on the season, a few things must be recognized. The Arabians had never faced a rushing attack like this before. The Arabians’ strength on defense is in their passing coverage, not their ground game. When you face a team that focuses on the ground game and barely passes three times the whole game, you’re bound to face issues. In the end, the Arabians will need to improve their tackling and offensive line game. Arabian quarterback Christian Conkling showed that he really does have skill in his arm, and running back Payton Huth proved why he is one of the leaders of the team. The Arabians face a huge foe in the New Palestine Dragons at home next week, and if the town of Pendleton doesn’t want to see a repeat of last year’s meeting with this team, they’ll need to come out cheering loud for their Arabians. Maybe we should get fireworks.