CLAYTON — Both Crawfordsville and Cascade were looking to kick off their seasons on a high note since each had struggled in past years.
Only Crawfordsville would get to celebrate.
The Athenians, leading 7–0 after the third quarter, broke open the game in the fourth with three touchdowns to defeat Cascade 27–7.
But both teams struggled early on as each started the game with two drives that ended in punts.
“We were a little shaky at first, especially on offense, we just had trouble moving the ball,” Crawfordsville coach Sean Gerold said. “We preached all week about our speed, being in the right position, no excuses, we didn’t start off how we wanted to at all, but we preserved.”
With just a few minutes remaining in the first quarter, Crawfordsville got the ball at the Cascade 45. After driving inside the 20-yard line with 56 seconds left on the clock, Athenians quarterback Travis Harris hit receiver Casey Reeves on an 18-yard strike for a 7–0 lead.
The Cadets had their chances in the first half and got to the Athenian 6-yard line with under two minutes left in the econd quarter. But senior quarterback Colin Smith took a couple hits behind the line that pushed the Cadets back to the 19. Cacade settled for a field goal attempt, but missed it shortly before halftime.
The second half started similar to the first, as both teams had difficulty moving the ball and at the end of the third, Crawfordsville clung to a 7–0 lead.
The fourth quarter was quite a different story.
Harris, who was making his first varsity start, started to roll. He rushed for two touchdowns on two straight drives, giving the Athenians a commanding 20–0 lead with 6:10 left to play.
Smith wasn’t about to back down, as he ran and threw to multiple receivers, keeping the Cadets alive. Less than a minute later, he would score on a 13-yard run and close the gap to 13 points, 20–7. Smith finished 13 of 29 for 178 yards passing and rushed for 10 yards and a score.
Harris answered on the next drive, hitting senior receiver Logan Meadows on a slant and he outraced all defenders for a 78-yard touchdown that ended any Cadet rally. Harris finished 14 of 25 for 177 yards passing and two touchdowns, and rushed for 75 yards and two more touchdowns.
Gerold applauded his opponent’s effort.
“Our hats off to Cascade, their coach (Thompson) has them playing great, they are not the 1-9 team from last year, they are going to be really good,” he said.
The result wasn’t what Cacade first-year coach Jason Thompson wanted, but his team’s effort was.
“The thing I am most proud of is that we didn’t quit, we fought to the last snap, some things didn’t bounce our way throughout the game, but that’s all I can ask for,” he said. “We just need to go back to the drawing board, fix some small mistakes, practice hard and get ready for next week.”