ARABIANS FLOP IN WEEK FIVE
By Sam Sherman
As the Pendleton Heights Arabians return home after a long 2-week road trip, the Arabian crowd was eager to see their team bounce back yet again and turn the season around. Legendary former Pendleton Heights coach and Athletic Director John Broughton gave a moving speech to past and current players of his, and the Arabians were ready to get underway. The only issue: Pendleton Heights was facing the #2 ranked team in the state, conference opponent New Palestine. Still, there was hope that Pendleton Heights could pull off the upset at home, and that’s exactly what the Arabians were ready to attempt.
The game began with an Arabian offensive possession, and while Coach Richman led the game with a different approach than usual – all passes on the first drive – the Arabians failed to convert and went a quick 3-and-out. New Pal quickly took advantage of good field position and capped off a fast drive with a 17-yard touchdown run. The Dragons led 7-0 early. The Arabians kept with the passing game on their next drive, but it still did not pick up. Again, the New Pal offense came back on the field. Ready to extend their early lead. That’s exactly what they did. After a slower drive, the Dragons carried the ball to the 1-yard line and punched the ball into the end zone with another run. New Pal’s lead extended to 14-0. Neither team could get anything going the rest of the quarter, and the New Palestine Dragons led the Pendleton Heights Arabians by a score of 14-0 at the end of one.
The second quarter began with a Pendleton Heights possession. As the Arabians moved down the field, their offense showed potential that they could cut into the New Pal lead. Just as the Arabian offense was getting in a rhythm, sophomore quarterback Christian Conkling threw an interception to a New Pal corner that was taken to the house, extending New Pal’s lead to a large 21-0. The next Arabian offensive possession didn’t extend past five yards, and Pendleton Heights was forced to punt again. On the first play of this New Pal offensive set, senior quarterback Gunnar Large ran the ball from the pocket all the way into the end zone, putting the Dragons up 28-0. Eventually, Pendleton Heights breached into the New Pal red zone. After the Dragon secondary stopped Conkling on every pass attempt, junior Thomas Quiroga kicked the ball through the uprights to make New Pal’s lead 28-3. These were the first points the Dragons had given up in 7 straight quarters. The New Pal coordinators were livid. On the next New Pal drive, sophomore Evan Douglas made a sliding interception and gave Pendleton Heights the ball back. They failed to do anything with the possession, and on the first play of the New Pal drive, senior running back Duron Ford took it from the 49-yard line and sprinted to the end zone. The New Palestine Dragons led Pendleton Heights 35-3 at halftime. The Arabians’ failure to stop the Dragon run game and failure to respond with any offensive strength of their own led to the great deficit.
The third quarter began exactly how the second quarter ended. The very first play from scrimmage was a 90-yard touchdown run for New Pal. The Dragons led 42-3. Pendleton Heights again couldn’t respond, and punted the ball to the New Pal 41-yard marker. Eventually, the Dragons would crawl down to the 19-yard line and rush into the end zone yet again. New Pal’s lead extended to 49-3. Pendleton Heights couldn’t move the ball on their next drive and punted it back to the Dragons. Their next drive was an even mix of pass and rush, which ended in a short touchdown run, making the New Pal lead 56-3. New Pal held steady and kept the lead to the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Pendleton Heights finally made some offensive moves and senior Corbin Cox carried the Arabians down to the 2-yard line, where he rushed in the end zone for Pendleton’s first touchdown of the night. Looking very similar to last week, however, junior Thomas Quiroga missed the PAT. New Pal led 56-9. Just as the Pendleton Heights squad was starting to feel a tad-bit better, New Pal returned the kickoff to the end zone, and extended the lead yet again. This time, the Dragons led and won 63-9. Pendleton Heights falls to (1-4).
As Pendleton Heights looks back at this game, they have to be very understanding. This team has many great skills and qualities but definitely has its issues. Sophomore quarterback Christian Conkling has proven time and time again that he has a great arm that is very capable of long and accurate throws, but struggles with decision making every now and then. Senior running backs Corbin Cox and Payton Huth show that their legs and strength are definitely highlights of the Pendleton Heights offense, but the line needs to find them more holes. Pendleton Heights can leave this game with many positives. However, this talented yet struggling Pendleton Heights squad faced off against the second best team in the state. They fought hard till the very end, which is all that players and coaches can ask for. They continue to show perseverance and dedication in each and every game, no matter the outcome. Next week the Pendleton Heights Arabians will be facing off against another conference rival Mt. Vernon in their 2016 Homecoming. Expect the Pendleton stands to be unbelievably fired up, and expect the players to bring sheer power and intensity as they take on the Marauders.