By Kale Calvert
The Gibson Southern Titan JV team traveled to Huntingburg Monday, marauding the JV Southridge Raiders in a 54-7 drubbing to cruise to a 3-0 record.
While the score stayed close through most of the first half, the Titan offense exploded in the final 16 minutes, needing only seven total plays to score five times in their final five drives.
The defensive front seven, led by junior linebacker T.J. Lewis, shut down the Raiders and never allowed their offense to stray more than two yards into Titan territory. The lone Southridge score came after a lapse in the Titan kick coverage.
Otherwise, it was a Titan plunder all night long in Huntingburg.
The Gibson Southern defense forced two three-and-outs from Southridge to start the game. Four plays into the second Titan offensive series, sophomore quarterback Tanner Boyd connected with sophomore Maxx Wilson for a 17-yard touchdown.
The two-point conversion attempt was no good, leaving the score 6-0 midway through the first quarter.
Gibson Southern again forced a three-and-out from Southridge behind a sack from sophomore defensive tackle Kevin Ruff. Titan sophomore Mason Scheller took the booming 43-yard Raider punt from his own 25 and raced 40 yards to set up Gibson Southern back near the original Southridge line of scrimmage.
Boyd took the first carry from scrimmage 24 yards, and Roberts punched it in from 11 out to get the second Titan score of the evening. The kick by sophomore Baker Calvert was good, making it 13-0 with 38 seconds left in the first frame.
Punting aside, the lone Southridge bright spot of the evening came on their ensuing kickoff return when a Raider returner was able to split the Titan coverage and scamper down to the Gibson Southern 15 yard-line.
Two plays later, Southridge got their lone score of the night. The kick was good, cutting it to 13-7 early in the second quarter.
Starting at their own 16 yard-line, the Titan offense systematically marched down the field on a 14-play drive before turning it over on downs at the Raider 25.
The Titan defense continued their dominance in the next series, forcing Southridge into their fourth three-and-out. The Raider 38-yard punt was returned 21 yards by Scheller past midfield, but a Titan block in the back penalty dragged Gibson Southern back to their own 30 to start the next drive.
The Gibson Southern offense jumped right back into rhythm with a 17-yard run by sophomore Michael Herren, a reception by junior wide receiver Zach Butler for ten yards, and another Herren 14-yard run for a third consecutive first down. Three plays later, Boyd trotted in from six yards out to extend the Titan lead.
The kick was no good, leaving the score 19-7.
It was business as usual for the stingy Gibson Southern defense, forcing Southridge into their fifth three-and-out. The Raiders punted it away from their own 20, where it was returned for 11 yards back into Southridge territory by Scheller.
Boyd hit Herren at the Raider 20 as time expired in the half, where he was met by multiple Raider defenders and dragged down by a horse-collar tackle.
Gibson Southern was awarded additional yardage on the penalty and an untimed down. From the Raider ten, Boyd floated a pass into the endzone to a lunging Herren, but he was unable to bring it in on the free play.
The Titans received the second-half kickoff, taken by Herren from the 12 out to the 43. The Gibson Southern offense began moving the ball again behind a six-yard Herren run. However, one play later, a Raider defender stepped in front of a Boyd pass to pick it off at the Southridge 16.
Lewis throttled the first Raider play from scrimmage in the second half by shooting the gap and dropping the runner for a five-yard loss.
Southridge was forced to punt it away after their sixth three-and-out. Scheller returned the 42-yard Raider punt 33 yards back across midfield all the way down to the Southridge 28 with just under seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Along comes junior running back Devan Roberts and a Titan offensive barrage. After picking up eight yards on his first tote of the second half, the stat line from Roberts’ following three touches is nothing but unbelievable: three carries, 190 yards, three touchdowns.
While the Titan Bigs on the offensive line often opened up holes a truck could drive through, Roberts may have not needed the assistance with his vision and quick feet on those three carries.
After running in a short-field touchdown from 20 yards out, the Titan offense also scored on their next two plays from scrimmage with runs of 79 yards and 91 yards from Roberts. Roberts’ back-to-back-to-back touchdown runs extended the lead from 19-7 to 40-7, with less than four minutes elapsing off the clock.
Already deflated, the Raiders’ next offensive series started with a five-yard sack by Titan junior Garret Heldt, followed by sophomore cornerback Jake Foster dropping a runner for a loss of three. Inevitably Southridge turned it back over to Gibson Southern on downs.
Gibson Southern needed just two plays to find the endzone for the seventh time of the game. Boyd first connected with sophomore slot receiver Calvert on a diving 36-yard reception along the Raider sideline.
This set up a 16-yard strike to Wilson, his second touchdown reception of the game, and starting the mercy rule running clock. The kick was good, extending the lead to 47-7.
The Titan defense forced a ninth Raider three-and-out behind a tackle from junior defensive end Brock Fauquher and a tackle for loss from junior linebacker Luke Foster.
After a short Raider punt with no return, Herren took an outside toss on the first play of the next Titan series for a 54-yard score, sprung free by key downfield blocks from sophomore receivers Lucas Emery and Ian Rexing. The kick was good, making it 54-7, where it stayed as the clock ran out on Southridge’s offense.
The final Titan touchdown ended their second half offensive onslaught of five scores on five consecutive series, needing only seven total plays.
In that period, Gibson Southern accumulated 304 yards, averaging nearly 44 yards per play. Overall, the Titans had 540 yards of offense in the game.
Aside from the late first quarter kick coverage breakdown and Raider score, the Titan defense forced eight punts, two turnovers on downs, and allowed zero first downs. Southridge managed a meager two yards rushing on the evening off 27 touches, of which 13 carries went for negative yardage.
The Gibson Southern defensive secondary smothered the Southridge passing attack, allowing only two short completions for six yards on eight attempts. The secondary can also be credited with multiple coverage sacks throughout the game.