LAFAYETTE — Only four teams remained in Class A Indiana high school football heading into Friday night.
For the second time in four seasons, Churubusco was one of those teams. Between the Eagles and their second state finals appearance in school history was the best Class A had to offer in defending champion Lafayette Central Catholic.
A low scoring first half saw life in Churubusco’s chances leading 8-7 at one point. Unfortunately for `Busco the best record in school history ended in the second half. The No. 1 Knights used ball control and 20 points in the third quarter to advance to the state final contest Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
“They played very hard and earned the respect of everyone that saw them play and played against them,” Churubusco Head Coach Lee Etzler said. “That’s a lot to be proud of.”
Four seasons ago, Churubusco was in a similar situation against defending champion Sheridan. A lopsided contest had the Eagles out early. However, Friday night was not decided until the second half.
After seeing Lafayette Central score on its opening drive, Churubusco responded. Following a 44-yard touchdown pass from LCC quarterback Austin Munn, senior Kyle Mathewson had the answer for Churubusco to start the second quarter.
Like he has all season, Mathewson was on the front, middle and end of a nine-play scoring drive for the Eagles, capped by his 15-yard touchdown reception from the arm of Quarterback Kyle Monk. Mathewson added the two-point conversion and put `Busco up 8-7 with 8:20 left in the first half.
“Our kids played hard and we weren’t surprised to be in that situation,” Etzler noted. “We understood that the second half was going to be a battle.”
Mathewson was the horse of the Churubusco offense, carrying the ball 35 times for 180 yards and ending his senior campaign with 2,590 rushing yards. Mathewson also added two receptions for 24 yards and added a touchdown pass of his own to senior Hunter Nicodemus in the fourth quarter.
“Mathewson is an extremely gifted athlete,” Etzler stated. “He still might have been the best athlete on the field, and they (LCC) have some tremendous athletes.”
The Knights used a late second-quarter drive to hold a 14-8 lead at halftime. Running back Cody Christopher punched in a two-yard drive that had LCC keep the ball on the ground with four different Knights gaining yardage.
The second half is where Lafayette Central has made its claim as the No. 1 team in Class A. Opening with the ball, the Knights marched down the field on Churubusco in four plays. A 26-yard burst up the middle by Brad Schrader capped off the drive leaving LCC up 20-8.
It was what the Knights did next that ultimately cut down `Busco’s hopes. A successful onside kick kept the Eagles from responding.
LCC followed by scoring two more touchdowns in the third quarter. A fourth and goal conversion had Christopher score the first of two rushing TDs.
“We were concerned with their ability to blow things open in the second half,” Etzler admitted. “It was frustrating that we weren’t able to do anything about it tonight but our kids played hard and did not back down.”
Churubusco surrendered 250 yards on the ground while being held to 212. The Knights 143 passing yards helped LCC move the ball quickly capitalizing on the Eagles two fumbles in the first half.
Although ended sooner than they would have liked, the Eagles finish as the only 12 win team in school history. According to Etzler, there is nothing to be disappointed with.
“They worked their tales off,” Etzler said of his players. “The coaching staff asked a lot of them. They take it and gotten better each year especially the seniors.
One of those seniors was Kyle Monk who was a vocal and hard hitting leader for the Eagles in 2010. Monk notes the mark him and his teammates left on the field will last for years.
“Bringing back the sectional and regional championship felt good,” Monk said. “The way we played with that sense of urgency all year. I think what’s best is hopefully we can leave that instilled in the players left in the program.
“Always having that sense of urgency and playing like its your last play every time. Hopefully that stays around `Busco for awhile.”