The Central Noble football team ended 13 years of a futility against Churubusco Friday in dramatic fashion, getting a last minute, 7-yard touchdown run by Breeon Burgess to defeat the Eagles, 19-17, on homecoming night.
The win improved the Cougars to 6-1 on the season, 3-0 in the Small School division of the Northeast Corner Conference. Churubusco, ranked No. 4 in Class 1A, fell to 6-1, 3-1 in division contests.
“It’s amazing,” Burgess said of ending the drought against CN’s rival. “I can’t even find words for it.”
On the opposite sideline, Churubusco coach Paul Sade had words for it.
“It stings,” Sade said. “It hurts. It’s disappointing.”
Central Noble won the war in the trenches, dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
The Eagles came into the game averaging 277 yards per game on the ground. Churubusco rushed the ball 33 times for 60 yards Friday against Central Noble’s defense. The Cougars only allowed five rushing yards in the second half on 16 Churubusco carries.
Central Noble rushed for 111 yards on 23 carries in the second half and finished the game with 191 yards on 42 carries.
“We knew it would be a physical game,” Sade said. “Their defense played extremely aggressively. Their linebackers played well, were aggressive. There wasn’t much we could do in the second half. We just didn’t do enough on offense.”
Ending the streak looked all but impossible late in the contest.
With Churubusco leading 17-13 and 5:28 showing on the clock, the Cougars faced a fourth-and-inches call from their own 12 yard line. Central Noble coach Greg Moe and offensive coordinator Trevor Tipton appeared to take a chance, going for it deep in their own territory.
The Eagles’ defense held, turning the ball over on downs. At the very least, Churubusco was in field goal range. Kicker Joey Emenhiser had already booted a 40-yard field goal in the contest, but on first down, the Eagles were called for a motion penalty that negated a touchdown run. On second down, Nathaniel Keener gained seven yards to the 10. A face mask penalty moved the ball back to the 24 on the next play.
Keener gained one yard to the 23, then Central Noble’s defense caught Emenhiser for a seven-yard loss to the 30. Faced with a fourth-and-28 call, Sade had his team punt.
The ball went into the end zone and Central Noble had the ball on its own 20 with 3:46 to play.
On first down, CN quarterback Nick Alwine hit Jesse Jacobs for a nine-yard gain. A face mask penalty on the Eagles moved the ball all the way to the Cougar 44.
On first down, Alwine hit Burgess for a gain of two yards, setting up a second-and-eight call. Alwine again hit Burgess, this time for one yard to make it third-and-seven from the CN 47.
On third down, Alwine’s pass went incomplete and it was fourth-and-seven with 2:05 to play.
Alwine dropped back on fourth down and connected on a 28-yard strike to Jacob Brose. A Churubusco player was called for a facemask on the play, and Central Noble had a first down from the Eagles’ 13 with 1:53 remaining.
Two runs by Braxton Dial brought the ball to the seven, and on third down, Burgess ran around the right end, beat Churubusco’s defenders to the edge and made it into the end zone with 48.3 seconds to play.
Burgess run made it 19-17.
“I just followed my blocks,” Burgess said.
The Cougar defense made the score hold up, forcing three incomplete passes and getting a sack from Conner Mooney.
“Our quarterback made up his mind he was going to win the game,” Moe said of the clutch toss to Brose late.
Asked if he thought his team was in trouble when it turned the ball over on downs deep in its own territory late, Moe said quite the opposite was true.
“We knew they were not going to score,” Moe said. “We just had the momentum. I believe in our kids. If kids believe, academically or athletically, they can do it.”
As for the final sequence of running plays that sealed the game, being able to play power football was right up Moe’s alley.
“Sometimes, you’ve got to play smash-mouth football,” he said.
Burgess rushed the ball 15 times for 101 yards and two scores. Dial carried the ball 16 times for 54 yards.
Keener led the Eagles with 40 yards on 16 carries.
Central Noble scored on its first possession on a 10-yard pass from Alwine to Jeff Myers. Churubusco then scored the next 17 points of the half to take a 17-7 lead at halftime.
Central Noble scored on a three-yard run by Burgess to make it 17-13 with 1:12 left in the third.