Phone: 317-846-6601 Fax: 317-575-4244 Website: www.ihsaa.org
Blake Ress, Commissioner
November 29, 2008
CENTER GROVE’S FOURTH QUARTER RALLY STUNS DEFENDING CHAMP CARMEL
Top-ranked Center Grove rallied from a 19-point point fourth quarter deficit to stun No. 2 defending state champion Carmel, 36-33, in the 5A state championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
It was the first football state championship for Center Grove following its state runner-up finish of 2000. The 19-point deficit also was the largest overcome to win a championship in state finals history. Four other teams had overcome 14 point margins previously.
The win denied Carmel a seventh state championship in football in its third consecutive appearance in the 5A title game. The two teams shared the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference title this year and it was only the second win for the Trojans in the two teams last six meetings. Carmel defeated Center Grove, 33-32, in a last minute thriller on Sept. 5.
When Nick Logan’s 19 yard run put the Greyhounds up 33-14 with 3:06 to go in the third quarter and the Trojans ensuing drive ended on downs at the Carmel 11 yard line, things looked bleak for Center Grove.
But the Trojans offense, which averaged 465 yards per game this season, finally came alive in the final 8:18 of the game scoring 22 unanswered points.
After forcing a Carmel punt, Center Grove took over at its own 42. From there they drove nine plays in 2:14 with senior quarterback Jordan Luallen carrying it five yards for the score to cut it to 33-21.
On the ensuing kickoff, Center Grove tried on on-side kick and recovered the ball at Carmel’s 48-yard line. Nine plays and 2:53 later, Luallen connected with Michael Wood in the endzone on fourth and goal from the two yard line cutting the margin to 33-28.
The Trojans came back with another on-side kick and recovered it at their own 42 after it bounced off a Carmel special teams player. From there, Center Grove used three passing plays and four running plays before Luke Swift carried five yards to put the Trojans up 34-33 with :50 seconds left. Swift then made a diving catch in the back of the endzone for the two point conversion and a three point cushion.
In the fourth quarter, Center Grove managed to keep the Carmel offense on the sideline for all but nine plays and 3:19 of possession time.
Carmel scored on its first three possessions of the game with quarterback Morgan Newton connecting with Eric Ardaiolo on an eight yard strike, Kurt Freytag running in from one yard and Newton sprinting 54 yards to the endzone.
Center Grove answered Carmel’s opening score with their own when Luallen pushed in from two yards out at 1:43 of the first quarter.
Perhaps one of the biggest drives of the game, however, came just before halftime. Down 21-7, Center Grove’s Kevin Jones picked off Newton at the Carmel 33 yard line with 2:05 to go before the break. The Trojans scored three plays later on Tanner Riley’s 23 yard touchdown run with 1:16 to go cutting Carmel’s lead to 21-14 and that’s the way they went to the lockerroom.
On the first drive of the second half, Carmel drove 78 yards in 12 plays and Newton carried 14 yards for his second touchdown to extend their lead to 27-14.
Newton finished the game with 211 yards on the ground and 78 yards through the air on 12 of 19 passing, one touchdown and one interception. Luallen completed 13 of 20 passes for 167 yards and one touchdown and Swift rushed for 73 yards on 17 carries.
Center Grove was led by ninth year coach Eric Moore. Carmel was coached by Mo Moriarity who was making sixth championship game appearance and is one of nine coaches in the state to have taken two different schools to the state finals. He also took Bloomington South to the finals in 1993, 1997 and 1998.
Saturday’s three games drew a record crowd of 40,680. Coupled with Friday’s 15,370, the five-game total of 56,050 set a new state finals record topping last year’s standard of 51,217.
LUKE SWIFT OF CENTER GROVE NAMED ESKEW MENTAL ATTITUDE AWARD WINNER
Following the game, the IHSAA Executive Committee named Luke Swift of Center Grove as the winner of the Phil N. Eskew Mental Attitude Award in Class 5A football.
Swift played running back and returned kicks for the Trojans. He is a member of the track and field team and specializes in the hurdle and relay events. He placed sixth in the 110 hurdles and anchored the school’s 4x400 relay at the 2008 state finals. Swift earned All-Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference, All-Metro South, and All-County honors culminating from the 2008 season.
Swift has volunteered his time with the Lord’s Pantry, Gleenor’s Food Kitchen, Day of Caring, and numerous church functions. He also was selected to represent Center Grove in the IHSAA Role Model poster program.
Academically, Swift maintains a 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale. He is undecided on his college choice but would like to pursue a career in sports medicine.
the son of Mike and Lin Swift of
The award is presented annually to a senior participant in the state finals who was nominated by his principal and coach and has demonstrated excellence in mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability. It is named in honor of the IHSAA’s third commissioner who served the association from 1962-76 and who helped initiate the state tournament in 1973.
Farm Bureau Insurance presented a $1,000 scholarship to
Class 5A Game Quotes
Center Grove Head Coach Eric Moore
“Man, we were bad for a while, but when we got good, we were good. My seniors believed they could do this when they were in the fourth grade.”
“Our attitude changed (in the fourth quarter). We were letting them push and shove us around and we were not physical. Finally we got physical and our conditioning was awesome.”
“I love my boys and they played with great character and valor tonight. They never said die. How about two in a row (on-side kick recoveries). It was a great special teams effort.”
“(In the fourth quarter) I said we’ve got to start believing in ourselves and play Trojan football. Even though we’re not a passing machine maybe we saved it for when we needed it.”
“First (state title) is forever. There can never be another first for another team.”
“I told these guys at the start of the second half that I didn’t know them in the first half. I didn’t recognize them. I just wanted the guys who usually play to show up and they did.”
“We didn’t get first downs early and Carmel did a great job defensively and we didn’t adjust to it. That’s why we got so far behind.”
“For me (state title), it means something I’d wanted to do my whole life. This is the top of the ladder for sports.”
Carmel Head Coach Mo Moriarity
“We had the game won and obviously we didn’t get it. We couldn’t finish it. We couldn’t get ‘em stopped at the end and up until that last series we only had the ball for three plays the entire fourth quarter. Just didn’t get it.”
(Following two consecutive lost on-side kicks) “Well … those things happen. Football is a crazy game and those things happen and tonight they happened to us. We have got to field the onside kick. We work on that in practice, every week. That’s our hands team and we have to make the plays. There at the end, they made plays and we didn’t. It’s just that simple.”
“They kept 12 (Carmel QB Morgan Newton) off the field and they hadn’t had an answer for him all night. He’s the best player in the state, no doubt, but credit them for keeping him off the field. We actually thought when we got ahead that forcing them to pass might be to our advantage, but you have to make stops and we didn’t.”
“Our kids played hard, they always do, and that’s a tough loss, for sure. When you have one won like that and lose … it’s tough.”
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