By CRAIG ADKINS
It was Senior Night at Hare Chevrolet Field in Noblesville on Friday night and that always brings out the emotions of another senior football class playing their last home regular season football game.
Both teams recall last season’s meeting at Brownsburg that turned out to be a thriller in the final half of the fourth quarter. The Millers were down 21-0 and mounted a comeback for the ages, beating the Bulldogs on the road, 22-21. That might be what sparked their third quarter surge.
Could the Millers repeat that feat on their home field a year later? Brownsburg had other ideas, as they used a three-touchdown third quarter to pull away from the Millers on Friday night, 41-10.
The Bulldogs kicked off the game and played a great first few plays on offense, forcing Noblesville to punt after three quick plays. Brownsburg put the first points on the board when 6’1, 300 pound Ronny Williams came busting up the middle, blocking Chase Evans punt and recovering it in the end zone for a fast 7-0 Brownsburg lead.
“Our defense held them scoreless in the first quarter. Obviously the blocked punt got them the seven points they had,” said Noblesville head coach Jason Simmons, commending his defense for their first quarter play.
“I felt like we controlled time of possession in the first quarter, which was critical tonight,” said Simmons on the Millers offense controlling the clock in the first.
Noblesville returned the favor on Brownsburg’s first series when Darius Dowdell blocked the Clay Chase punt, recovering it at the Bulldog 30, giving the Millers in a prime opportunity to tie the game.
On 2nd and goal from the seven, Noblesville quarterback Grant Gremel threw a short fade route to Zach Gruver, in double coverage, for a seven-yard, over the shoulder catch to knot the game 7-7 after one quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Brownsburg drove clear down to Noblesville’s 18, but were turned away after Clay Chase missed a 35-yard field goal.
Their next possession, Brownsburg didn’t waste any time at all. Quarterback Kyle Strakis sent Bryce Kirtz down the field all by his lonesome for a 65-yard touchdown pass.
They would add another within no time on a fullback rumble up the middle from six-yards out by RJ Decker (6’4, 260 lbs.). The conversion snap was low and holder Ethan Harless was tackled, ending the point-after try, but extended the lead to 20-7.
The Millers would put together a pretty good drive to end the half that resulted in a 43-yard Jack Knight field goal as the first half clock expired, cutting the deficit to 20-10 at halftime.
The third quarter was a different story. It was almost like Brownsburg wanted to put this one away and do it fast.
Bryce Kirtz lined up in the backfield to throw the Miller defense off a little and that’s exactly what he did. Kirtz rolled out and threw a halfback pass to Reis Thomas and he raced 54 yards to put Brownsburg up now 27-10.
Noblesville’s next drive resulted in trying a fake punt that wound up turning the ball back over to the visitors.
Brownsburg had a short field at Noblesville’s 40. This time, it was QB Kyle Strakis that jaunted 27-yards to a touchdown to run the score to 34-10.
A couple drives later, Kirtz made it look way too easy, hauling in another touchdown grab from Strakis from 29 yards that would account for the final score of 41-10.
“I think we have to play with more conviction. Right now we’re just okay, being average. Average isn’t good enough for us to compete and win games,” said Simmons on his team’s play after eight games.
The Millers seem like they get to where there are opportunities in front of them, but they just have to find ways to capitalize on them.
“The bottom line is we’re not playing disciplined enough. And, that starts with the same things we saw today, we saw in practice all week and we have to find guys that are gonna play disciplined to give us a chance,” said Simmons on his team not playing disciplined enough to play a complete game.
Taking advantage of opportunities, it didn’t take a whole lot, but Strakis was 9-of-14 through the air for 171 yards and a touchdown pass. Kirtz had six receptions for 136 yards and two TD’s and also passed for a score to lead Brownsburg’s offense. They also ran the ball well, getting 14 carries and 77 yards from sophomore tailback Donny Marcus, Strakis running five times for 45 and a TD and Shai Sumpter-Bey gaining 74 yards in 11 rushes.
Noblesville’s running game was almost non-existent, amounting to only 23 yards on 24 carries. Ryan Barnes was finally able to get back on the field and caught four Gremel passes for 49 and Luke Blevins snagged four for 39.
Gremel struggled for consistency in his passing game, going 11-of-21 for 113 yards and his lone touchdown to Gruver in the first quarter.
Brownsburg (6-2, 4-1 HCC) closes out its regular season next week at home against Hamilton Southeastern (3-5, 1-4), who lost at home 30-0 to Brebeuf Jesuit on Friday.
Noblesville (1-7, 0-5) hits the road to cap off their regular season at Avon (6-2, 5-1). The Orioles dominated at Zionsville Friday, 41-0.
By CRAIG ADKINS