By Bill Cross
For The Herald Bulletin
ALEXANDRIA, Ind. — The weather was once again perfect for some Friday night high school football action at Alexandria as the Tigers hosted Madison-Grant in a Central Indiana Conference tilt. Alexandria took control of the game early en route to a 40-13 win over the visiting Argylls.
The Argylls opened the scoring with a 72-yard drive that culminated in a Luke Stroup touchdown run from 6 yards out with 8:08 left in the first quarter. The drive included a 40-yard run by Cameron Myers on a wide pitch play on a third-and-2.
“They (Madison-Grant) were running their pitch play a little wider than we thought,” Alexandria coach Pete Gast said.
The Tigers responded quickly with a 77-yard touchdown pass from Blaize Kelly to Mason Hoke on a third-and-13 from the 23. Hoke caught the pass over the middle, spun out of the tackle and sprinted toward the end zone.
“It’s our Achilles’ heel,” Madison-Grant coach Craig Barr said. “We’re our own worst enemy, we don’t deal well with success.”
After Anthony Thomas picked off Argyll quarterback Dakota Brooks on the next possession, the Tigers scored on a 10-yard pass from Kelly to Dane Johnson.
The Tigers scored again with 3:35 left in the half when Kelly tossed a short screen pass up the middle to Evan Hodges for a 36-yard score.
The Tigers again drove into Argyll territory late in the half but could not score.
Alexandria broke the game open early in the third as Hodges scored on a 39-yard run on the second play from scrimmage.
Madison-Grant mounted a drive to the Tigers’ 24-yard line but failed to convert on fourth down and turned the ball back to Alexandria.
The Argylls appeared to have stopped the Tigers on the next possession, forcing the Tigers into punt formation for the first time. But Kelly threw a screen pass to Hoke for a 33-yard gain and a first down. The Tigers finished the drive with Hodges going in from the 7.
Hodges picked up a bad snap from center, spun out of a tackle at the 5 and ran wide to the right into the end zone. With 3:05 left in the third, Alex was up 33-6 and cruising.
Bryan Carter finished the scoring for the Tigers with just over a minute left in the third, scoring on a 13-yard run following a turnover by the Argylls on the kickoff.
Madison-Grant scored its final touchdown on a pass from Brooks to Myers with 3 minutes left in the game.
The Argylls came into the game battling with injuries and to make matters worse, illness went through the team this week as they prepared for the game.
“We have five players that are injured, but that’s not why we lost,” Barr said. “We changed some things this week defensively, but we have to be better tacklers.”
Alexandria came in with a sense of purpose, and Gast credited a practice session Wednesday as the key.
“The Wednesday practice won this game,” Gast said. “We came out and got after it. It was a matter of effort and just wanting it.”
The Argylls fall to 2-5 on the season and 1-4 in the CIC. Four of their defeats have come at the hands of potential sectional opponents.
“I’m an eternal optimist,” said Barr. “We’ve been beaten by four teams in our sectional, but come Monday morning, I am going to start preaching about needing to win our sectional.”
The Tigers raise their record to 5-2 overall and 3-2 in the CIC. It guarantees the Tigers a winning season, their first since 1998.
“We’re going to continue to go one day a time, not get too high or too low,” Gast said. “The boys are doing everything I ask.”
Madison-Grant travels to Mississinewa next Friday while the Tigers visit Blackford. Both games kick off at 7 p.m.