By Bill Cross
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — INDIANAPOLIS — Lucas Oil Stadium is known as the home of the Indianapolis Colts, but on a few Fridays and Saturdays during the football season, Indiana high school teams get a chance to take to the same field.
On Saturday, the Madison-Grant Argylls opened Central Indiana Conference action with a game against the Oak Hill Golden Eagles in the Lucas Oil Stadium Showcase, the opener of a tripleheader.
The Argylls dropped the game 48-23, but it was quite an experience for the team.
“It’s a great experience for these kids” Madison-Grant coach Craig Barr said after the game. “Everything went exactly how we planned except we didn’t win the football game. It was a fantastic day. Parents, family, the community came out and supported our kids."
The Argylls showed a lot of promise in a wild first half, taking a 23-21 lead to the locker room.
The half began with an Argyll turnover, a snap that sailed over quarterback Austin Purkey’s head and was recovered by the Golden Eagles in Madison-Grant territory.
Five plays later, the Golden Eagles’ Zach Daniels began his big day with a touchdown on a toss sweep to the right for a 7-0 Oak Hill lead.
Madison-Grant countered with a 16-play, 82-yard drive for a score when Luke Stroup broke the plane of the goal line with a 2-yard run. The two-point conversion was good, and Madison-Grant led 8-7.
Oak Hill went back on top with a 58-yard drive to retake the lead on another Daniels run, this time up the middle from 9 yards out.
The Argylls reached into the bag of tricks on the next series. Oak Hill had forced a fourth-and-8 on the Madison-Grant 22. Purkey took the snap in punt formation but ran to the right. With blockers out ahead of him, Purkey sprinted all the way to the Oak Hill 40.
Quarterback Dakota Brooks threw two consecutive completions for big yards, the second on a roll out to the right. Brooks floated a 24-yard strike to Purkey in the end zone for a touchdown and a 16-14 lead.
Oak Hill responded with a 61-yard drive, and Ethan Bowland powered in from the 1 on fourth-and-goal.
The lead belonged to the Golden Eagles, 21-16, with just over two minutes left.
The Argylls started at their own 20 but had runs of 14 and 36 yards to move into Eagles territory. Cameron Myers powered his way into the end zone with 10 seconds left for the final score of the half.
The Golden Eagles recovered a squib kick at the Argylls' 45, but pressure from the defense forced a bad pass by Derrick Randall, and it was picked off by the Argylls. Brooks threw an incompletion to end the half.
Madison-Grant opened the second half with a defensive stop, but the offense could not take advantage.
After a fumble, Oak Hill went 53 yards to take the lead for good at 28-23 on a Daniels run.
Madison-Grant turned the ball over on downs at its own 21, but the defense stiffened and Daniels was stopped on fourth down.
The Argylls again turned the ball over, this time at the 24. Oak Hill quarterback Randall scored on a 2-yard keeper for a 35-23 lead late in the third.
The Argylls appeared to be ready to cut the lead, but Brooks’ pass attempt was picked off at the 9 of the Golden Eagles.
On third-and-10, Randall went for a 70-yard touchdown run, breaking several tackles on his way. It gave Oak Hill a 42-23 lead and pretty much sealed the second defeat on the season for the Argylls.
The Argylls drove into Golden Eagle territory again, but Daniels ripped a pass completion from the arms of Drew Smith at the 20. Randall scored the final touchdown on the next play for the final 48-23 margin.
The Argylls committed six turnovers, and the Golden Eagles made them pay with touchdowns after five of the six.
“Oak Hill is a good football team, well coached and you just can’t turn the ball over on them,” Barr said. “We had one turnover coming in. The whole idea of this offense is to possess the football. We just can’t turn it over."
The Argylls are still adjusting to their new coach and have a few injuries in key positions.
“Our kids are still learning, we just don’t have the confidence yet to do it,” Barr said. “We keep preaching if we could execute for four quarters, we may be 3-0, but we can’t and we haven’t and we are 1-2. It’s just like anything else, you have to come back and just keep working."
As for the experience of playing at the site of the state championship games in November, Barr told his team that maybe this isn’t the only trip they will make to Lucas Oil Stadium.
“These aren’t football games, these are events that you will remember for the rest of your life,” Barr said. “What would happen if you came to practice every day and practice to the level you are capable? Maybe you get could back here and play again. Why not dream, why not set your goals? We could be pretty good if line up and do what we are supposed to do."
The Argylls (1-2, 0-1 CIC) host Elwood next Friday at 7 p.m.