ELKHART — After carrying the Elkhart Central football team on his back for four-plus quarters on Friday, Oct. 18, Joe Phillips has earned a week off.
Phillips a whisper-quick 5-foot-6 halfback, rushed for 205 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Blue Blazers to an exciting 28-27 overtime victory over Marian, in Northern Indiana Conference football action at Rice Field
Despite suffering from cramps for much of the second half, Phillips carried the ball 32 times _ including the game’s final play when he scooted around the left side for a 10-yard touchdown to tie the game at 27. He also tied the game on a 64-yard run with just over four minutes to play.
Since the Knights missed their extra point in the overtime period following Tyran Ottbridge’s one-yard touchdown run, it came down to Central kicker Cosmo Disori, who drilled the extra point attempt, despite a high snap from center.
It’s the first NIC win for the Blue Blazers, who enter Class 5A tournament play in two weeks with a 3-6 record. Marian falls to 4-5 overall and 3-3 in the conference.
“I just can’t say enough about how hard Joe Phillips ran tonight,’’ Central coach Levon Johnson said. “He was having a lot of problems with cramps, but he’s also the kind of kid who gets beat-up some and doesn’t look like he can go any further, but when the ball is put in play, he’s ready.’’
The Blue Blazers won the game despite having two long touchdown runs _ one by Phillips _ called back due to penalties. In addition, two huge Central turnovers handed Marian a 14-7 halftime advantage.
“Boy, we had our chances tonight, but you have to give Central credit for playing tough when they really needed to,’’ Marian coach Reggie Glon said. “Plus, we didn’t really have an answer for Phillips tonight. WIth his speed, all he needs is a small seam and he can break a long one.’’
After Phillips opened the second half with a 55-yard kickoff return, the Blazers would drive 51 yards in 11 plays to tie the game at 14. Phillips _ who scored on a three-yard run to end the drive _ carried the ball on all but one play.
But the Knights would take the lead back late in the third quarter thanks to their only sustained drive of the night, as Jacob Whitfield would score on a seven-yard run to complete a 65-yard drive, which included a costly personal foul penalty on the Blue Blazers.
With time running out in the game, the Blazers got the ball at the Marian 36 with just over four minutes left. On the first play from scrimmage, Phillips broke containment at the line of scrimmage and saw nothing but green grass in front of him as he easily outraced the Knights’ secondary to the end zone to complete a 64-yard touchdown run that tied the game at 21.
Marian had a shot to win the game late, after quarterback Ryan Schafer hooked-up with Whitfield for a 52-yard game deep into Central territory. But the Central defense stiffened, and Knights’ kicker Michael Farkas was well short on a 47-yard field goal attempt.
“I thought our defense played well,’’ Johnson said. “We had a good game plan going into the game and the kids really responded to it. You can see us starting to jell together defensively.’’
Ottbridge’s overtime touchdown came on a third-and-goal from the one. But Farkas, a Division I recruit, missed the extra point wide right.
Phillips would do it again on the next play, scoring untouched from the 10 on a sweep right. Disori’s extra point kick then sent the Blazers to their Class 5A bye week with momentum and a lot of good feelings.
“It will be strange not plaing next week, but it will give our bumps and bruises some time to heal,’’ Johnson said. “Plus, going in with a win is nicer than sitting and waiting two weeks after a loss.’’
Phillips first touchdown came on a 25-yard run less than three minutes into the game that gave the Blazers a 7-0 lead.
But Marian would score twice with it’s offense on the sidelines to take the halftime lead.
Joseph Ravotto would recover a bad snap on a punt in the end zone for a score, while Branden Kemp intercepted a Antwaan Allen pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown midway through the second quarter.
Central 28, Marian 27, OT
Scoring by Quarters
Marian 7 7 7 0 6 — 27
Central 7 0 7 7 7 — 28
School — Scoring Play
C — Joe Phillips 25 run; Cosmo Disori kick, 6:55.
M — Joseph Ravotto recovered fumble in end zone; Michael Farkas kick, 2:27.
M — Branden Kemp 45 interception return; Farkas kick, 6:20.
C — Phillips 3 run; Disori kick 6:55.
M — Jacob Whitfield 5 run; Farkas kick, 1:23.
C — Phillips 64 run; Disori kick, 4:05.
M — Tyran Ottbridge 1 run; kick failed.
C — Phillips 10 run; Disori kick.
Team Statistics Ma Ce
Net yards rushing 111 269
Net yards passing 106 36
Total Yards 207 305
First Downs 9 12
Fumbles-Lost 4-1 2-0
Penalties 5-25 4-50
Marian: Rushing — Tyran Ottbridge 19-71, Jacob Whitfield 11-32. Passing — Ryan Schafer 5-10-106 (1 int). Receiving — Whitfield 1-52, Ricky Entzian 2-33, Will Whitten 2-21.
Central: Rushing — Joe Phillips 32-205, Keion Johnson 5-14, Blake Faus 2-36, Vinny Schnell 1-11. Passing — Antwaan Allen 2-10-36 (2 int). Receiving — Phillips 1-33, Faus 1-3.