By Heather Bremer
For The Herald Bulletin
INDIANAPOLIS — Shenandoah’s lockdown defense and relentless rushing attack were just too much for the Broad Ripple Rockets on Friday night, lifting the Raiders to a 49-6 win and setting up a meeting with Knightstown in Round 2 of Class 2A Sectional 38 next week.
“I’m really proud of these guys tonight. They had a great week of practice,” Raiders coach Scott Widner said. “Our defense was outstanding all night long.”
Shenandoah couldn’t get out of its own way in the first half, or the winning margin might have been wider. A fumble at the Rockets’ 16, a turnover on downs at the 5, a 15-yard punt and an interception ended four of the Raiders’ five possessions in the first half. The fifth was capped by a 26-yard run by JJ Myers, one of three the junior had on the night, and gave Shenandoah a 7-0 lead at halftime.
“We’ve got to do a better job of taking care of the ball,” Widner said. “Then we had a penalty on one play that put us in a hole. We had a bad snap that put us in a hole. We’ve got to clean some of that stuff up.”
The door may have been left open for the Rockets at halftime, but the Raiders slammed it shut shortly after the third quarter began. Forcing Broad Ripple into a three-and-out on its first possession, Shenandoah went on a bruising 70-yard drive to go up 14-0 on an 8-yard run by Chandler Hale, who had 111 yards on the night.
With some breathing room, the Raiders’ linebackers were free to let loose on Rockets QB CJ Shittu and his rattled offensive line, while the secondary, starring Moose Kirk and Trevor Conner, smothered the receivers in man coverage.
“The plan was we were gonna play man on their receivers and try to make them pass it and not let No. 1 (Shittu) beat us. Cause he’s a special kid,” Widner said.
The plan worked. Perhaps anticipating the Shenandoah rush, the Broad Ripple center snapped it over Shittu’s head on consecutive possessions. The fumbles were both recovered by the Raiders. While the first resulted in nothing more than a Shenandoah fumble, the second concluded in a 3-yard touchdown run by Lane Young, who led all rushers with 158 yards and two touchdowns.
With 11:56 remaining in the game, the Raiders led 20-0. From there, it was defensive stop after defensive stop, touchdown after touchdown.
Trevor Conner picked off Shittu, then connected with Raiders QB Adam Lovan on an 80-yard pass play for a touchdown. A blown punt play set up Young for a 6-yard touchdown, raising the Raiders’ lead to 33-0. Myers accounted for Shenandoah’s final two TDs, one on a 9-yard run and the other on a recovered fumble after another bad Broad Ripple snap. The Raiders added a safety on the final play of the game for good measure.
In all, the Rockets usually potent offense gained just 122 yards and got its only score on Shittu’s kickoff return. On the other hand, the Raiders amassed 376 yards on the ground and 87 through the air.
“I think that the kids executed. And our lineman did an outstanding job,” Widner said. “Our backs, they’re pretty good backs, and I feel like when they run the ball and take care of the ball they’re a pretty good group as well. And it’s just a matter of execution and doing things right.”
Shenandoah will host Knightstown next week. The Raiders defeated the Panthers 62-0 on Sept. 27.