Castle football is heading to regionals after a revenge defeat over Terre Haute South on Friday.
The Knights faced the Braves in the sectional final after knocking down Evansville North in the sectional opener. The win comes after Castle was knocked out of the tournament in 2017 at the hands of Terre Haute South in the sectional opener.
Castle started early Friday night with junior quarterback Cameron Justus relying on senior Noah Taylor on the ground with strong results. After blocking South's first drive attempt, Castle took back the ball and gave Taylor a chance that he took 38 yards into the end zone only two minutes into the game.
But, South came back with their own chance taking the ball into the end zone just two minutes later to tie up the game. Determined to keep the lead, the Knights handed the ball to Taylor on the very first play of the drive allowing him to take it all the way to the end zone for another 58-yard touchdown.
This time, the Castle defense held their ground and the Knights took back possession with just under five minutes on the clock. A stellar pass to senior Conner Lockyear on the first play gave the Knights momentum. On the second play, Taylor took the ball and ran 75 yards to the end zone giving the Knights a 21-7 lead with four minutes left in the first quarter.
South took their possession and carried it into the second quarter and into the end zone. With 11 minutes still left in the half, the Braves closed the gap at 21-14.
But the Knights were still rolling. A short drive later and sophomore Reese Yunker marched in another touchdown. Despite a failed two-point conversion attempt, Castle had a commanding 27-14 lead.
Castle had a chance to take the lead further away from South after recovering a fumble, but the Braves defense forced the Knights to punt the ball away with more than five minutes left on the clock in the first half. South took the opportunity and put the ball in the end zone bringing the score to 27-20 with only 48 seconds left.
What resulted was a busy minute of football. Castle held on to the ball for three plays until the Braves picked off an interception with only 28 seconds left in the half. Two plays later and South expended the last seconds of the half with a pass into the end zone to tie the game at 27-27. Castle received the ball first in the second half, but South's defense came out strong and forced the Knights to punt. Then, the Knights returned the favor and took back possession with just over nine minutes left in the third quarter.
The Knights pushed the ball down the field before Justus found sophomore Nick Avery on a 31-yard pass into the end zone putting Castle back in the lead at 34-27 with 8:22 left on the clock in the third quarter.
The Braves worked hard in the next possession slipping through the Knights defense. After a long forceful drive, South found the end zone on a quarterback keep and evened up the score again, 34-34.
Castle took back possession with four and a half minutes left in the third quarter ready to take the game. After another strong drive on the ground, Taylor took his fourth touchdown of the game with another 31-yard run to give the Knights back the lead, 41-34.
Despite taking back possession with a minute left in the third quarter, South was forced to punt as the final second ticked off the clock allowing Castle to take over again at the top of the fourth quarter. The Knights drove down the field without a lot of trouble from the Braves and Taylor took his fifth touchdown of the game to stretch Castle's lead to 48-34.
With another good momentum going, the Castle defense held back South giving the Knights back possession with less just under nine minutes still on the clock in the game. On a drive dominated by Taylor on the ground, the senior running back carried a sixth touchdown in on a 23-yard run.
South desperately tried to make
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something of what would be their final possession of the game, but, with a ticking clock and a tough Knights defense, the Braves were unsuccessful. Then, with only a 1:27 on the clock, sophomore Nyles Sutton grabbed an interception to give the Knights the final say allowing Castle to close out the final seconds and take the win, 55-34.
At the end of the night, Taylor stole the show with 346 of Castle's 382 rushing yards and six of the team's eight touchdowns.
With the sectional title in hand, the Knights will gear up to take on Columbus East in a regional matchup on Friday night on the road. The Olympians made their way taking down New Albany and Seymour before knocking down Bedford North Lawrence, 51-14, in their sectional after going 7-2 in their regular season.
Head coach Doug Hurt said it was a tough, physical football game, but the Knights were ready for the win. He said the team knew it was down to character and eliminating mistakes.
"It was a tough, hard-fought battle, but we've got great kids," he said. "I'm awfully proud of them."
Hurt said the team will work to be ready to take on Columbus East. While the opponent will be tough, he said the Knights will be ready for the Olympians in the regional battle.
"We got some tough kids, too," he said. "I know we'll be ready to go. We'll have a great week of practice and we'll be prepared when we roll up."
Castle will take on Columbus East in Columbus on Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central.