After three high-scoring games the previous three weeks, the Beech Grove Hornets found themselves locked in a low-scoring contest against the visiting Scecina Crusaders in an Indiana Crossroads Conference tussle. Led by the 125 rushing yards of senior Ayden Brooks and the passing of fellow classmate Gavin Mitchell, the Hornets managed to eke out a 17-14 victory Friday night at Beech Grove’s Teachers Credit Union Field (“The Pit”).
Two key turnovers in the contest led to Beech Grove touchdowns. The first, a fumble recovery by senior Jaden Mullins at Beech Grove’s 18-yard line, set up a 10-play, 82-yard drive that culminated with a one-yard touchdown run by Mitchell, who carried the ball 18 times for 99 yards, to put the hosts out in front 7-0 with 1:14 remaining in the first quarter.
However, the Crusaders answered Beech Grove’s score with one of their own as junior running back DeQuan Stennis, who led all rushers with 134 yards on 22 carries, took the ball into the end zone from five yards out, tying the game at 7-7 just 21 seconds into the second period. The score would remain that way until late in the first half when Beech Grove scored 10 points in a span of one minute and 25 seconds. Freshman kicker Mike Fonseca booted a 20-yard field goal with 2:14 left to give the Hornets a 10-7 advantage. Turnover #2 came when junior cornerback Damonte Henderson intercepted a pass by Scecina quarterback Aidan Ray at his own 37-yard line and returned it 16 yards to the Crusader 47. Two plays later, Mitchell, who completed 15-of-27 passes for 149 yards, hooked up with fellow senior Jorden Murphy on a 47-yard touchdown to extend Beech Grove’s lead to 17-7 with 48.4 seconds left in the half. Murphy’s touchdown catch was one of eight receptions he collected for a total of 93 yards.
After a Hornet drive stalled to begin the third quarter, the Crusaders answered with a five-play, 41-yard drive that was aided by three Beech Grove penalties. Ray, a junior, scored from one yard out to cut Scecina’s deficit to 17-14 with 9:19 to go in the third quarter. Little it was known at that juncture that the Crusader touchdown would be the last score of the contest as both teams’ defenses bore down and made it a ball game in which points were at a premium.
Scecina (2-2, 2-1 in the ICC) would mount one last drive in the final minutes of play. Taking over at its own 11-yard line with just over two minutes remaining, it would manage just 18 yards on seven plays. Beech Grove’s defense forced five incomplete passes by Ray as the Hornets took over on downs at the Crusader 29-yard line with 1:41 left to play in the game. Mitchell ran out the remaining time with three kneeldowns as Beech Grove defeated Scecina for the first time since the 2015 season.
Beech Grove (2-2, 2-2 in the ICC), who still trails in the all-time series 14-4 with the Crusaders, has won three of its four contests with Scecina on the September 11th date. The Hornets won 21-18 in overtime on a draw play by senior quarterback Jordan King in 2009 and, six years later, junior quarterback Chase Andries, who became the school’s most prolific passer in the 82-year history of its football program by rewriting the passing record books, engineered a comeback from a 21-6 deficit to give the Hornets a 28-21 win over the Crusaders.
The Hornets will take a brief respite from conference play as they travel to Washington High School on Indianapolis’ west side to face the host Continentals next Friday night. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.