GOSHEN — Mistake-prone and shorthanded, Elkhart Central’s football team rode the legs of senior running back Mark Brownlee in Friday’s non-conference game against Goshen.
Brownlee responded with another outstanding performance, as his 285 yards rushing on 32 carries and three touchdowns lifted the No. 10-ranked (5A) Blue Blazers past the RedHawks, 31-3.
“He’s just a really good player,” said Central coach Josh Shattuck about Brownlee, who now has 485 yards rushing on the season and 3,469 for his career, which is a record for Elkhart schools. “Our offensive line is really good and (Brownlee) gets us out of a lot of stuff. He’s just a hard back to tackle. Goshen plays hard and plays good schematic football."
Brownlee, who didn't play in the fourth quarter, was untouched on his touchdown runs of four and 50 yards in the first quarter.
“He’s a great back and that’s a good football team,” said Goshen coach Kyle Park. “They have a lot of talent and we knew that coming in. There’s a reason why (Brownlee) is a Division I back. We tried to arm tackle him down early and you’re not going to bring him down doing that.”
Central struggled to sustain drives because of penalties and turnovers. The Blue Blazers finished with 11 penalties for 115 yards, with three of those penalties bringing back touchdowns. Two interceptions from Central quarterback Isaiah Chandler stopped drives in the red zone.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Shattuck said. “We’ve got to clean up the penalties and we’ll do that.
"But at the end of the day to be mildly upset about a 31-3 victory tells you where we're at right now."
Brownlee’s one-yard touchdown run gave the Blue Blazers a 21-3 lead with 1:59 left in the second quarter.
Central’s other scores came on a 29-yard field from Elijah Harris and a 14-yard touchdown pass from Chandler to Devon Billings.
Central rushed for 339 yards and held Goshen to 38 yards rushing, despite not having a full unit.
“We were down six starting positions,” Shattuck said. “We had a few suspensions and kids with some personal issues that weren’t able to dress. We were down two offensive linemen, two defensive linemen and both of our starting corners didn’t play in the first half.
“With all that said, this is a good growing opportunity for us. I think everybody knows we have a lot of talent, but that doesn’t always equate to being a good football team.”
RedHawks quarterback Colin Turner, who misfired on his first eight passing attempts, finished 13-of-37 for 107 yards.
Goshen, which punted six times, cut Central's lead to 14-3 in the second quarter after getting a 30-yard field goal from Emylio Romo with 7:12 left in the second quarter.
"Goshen kind of spreaded it out and we've got good athletes that can play man coverage and we can bring a lot of pressure," Shattuck said. "We felt good about our defense going in. They performed how we expected them to."
Park came away encouraged from what he saw from his team.
"The way the game started it could have gotten ugly really fast," said Park. "I told our team after the game that I was really proud of the way they weathered the storm. They didn't put their heads down. They just kept digging and fighting. We told them before the game to give us everything they got and I think they did that."
The unbeaten Blue Blazers will host Jimtown next Friday at Rice Field in a non-conference game. Goshen, which fell to 1-1, will host Elkhart Memorial in a Northern Lakes Conference matchup.
ELKHART CENTRAL 31, GOSHEN 3
Scoring By Quarters
E — Mark Brownlee 4 run; Elijah Harris kick; 9:51.
E — Brownlee 50 run; Harris kick; 7:29.
G — Emylio Romo 30 field goal; 7:12.
E — Brownlee 1 run; Harris kick; 1:59.
E — Harris 29 field goal; 5:35.
E — Devon Billings 14 pass from Isaiah Chandler; Harris kick; 11:53.
Central: Rushing — Mark Brownlee 32-285, Dominic Davis 5-35. Passing — Isaiah Chandler 10-18-117 (2 int.), Cameron Wiltfong 1-1-2. Receiving — Roderick Ballard 4-58, Devon Billings 5-53. Interceptions — Terrence Williams. Fumble recoveries — Jacob Holt. Sacks — Sean Holman, Jonathan Decker .5, Rodney McGraw .5.
Goshen: Rushing — Bryant Grewe 9-15, Drew Wortham 9-26. Passing — Colin Turner 13-37-107 (1 int.). Receiving — Mason Schrock 3-35, Wesley VanHooser 3-24, Brayden Hinkel, 2-22, Ethan Vallejo 2-18. Interceptions — Schrock, VanHooser. Sacks — Zach Pena.