By Travis Whitton
For The Herald Bulletin
FAIRMOUNT, Ind. — Coming off a big victory against Marion last week, it appeared that the Madison-Grant football team might have had some momentum coming into Friday night’s game against Eastern. But the Comets stayed close and used a final-minute score to pull off the 26-22 road victory.
Eastern (1-1) trailed 15-0 to the Argylls with 3:51 before the half, but they chipped away until they gobbled up the four-point lead with 1:12 left in the game. Madison-Grant (1-1) couldn’t put an answering drive together and eventually turned the ball over on an Austin Purkey desperation pass with less than a minute left in the game.
The Argylls were rolling to start the game. They got a touchdown from Luke Stroup on a roll out to the right from 18 yards out. Purkey hit Seth Nash for the two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead with 3:01 left in the opening stanza.
With 3:51 left before the half, Madison-Grant put together a 13-play drive that was capped off by another Stroup touchdown from 29 yards out.
Comets quarterback Austin Bates hit his main receiver Will Porter on a 20-yard strike 84 seconds prior to the half. Cole Walker nailed the extra point, and Madison-Grant went into the locker room with a 15-7 lead.
On the opening drive of the second half, Eastern went on a seven-play, 55-yard drive that ended with Bates hitting Sam Rocchio on a 5-yard pass. The two-point conversion failed, but the Comets were within two points at 15-13 with 8:53 left in the third period.
The home team took what looked like a commanding 22-13 lead after Cameron Myers toted the ball 14 yards into the end zone just 1:02 into the fourth quarter, but the visitors weren’t going to let Madison-Grant get too far out of reach.
Two plays after the kickoff, Cree Johnston hit a wide-open Braden Gibson from 68 yards away on a flea-flicker. After the extra-point was converted, Eastern trailed just 22-20 with 10:11 left in the game.
Workhorse Myers fumbled the pigskin away at the 2-yard line on the ensuing drive, and the Comets marched down field. Bates punched it in on the quarterback keeper from 1-yard out for the final score with 1:12 left in the game.
Argylls coach Criag Barr said this one game isn’t reason for his kids to hang their heads, especially since the heat took out three of their top players – including leading rusher Travis Rogers.
“We just didn’t execute things the way we wanted to. They ran a couple of routes – the bottom line, our kids weren’t as disciplined as they needed to be,” said the M-G coach. “We got beat on a couple of things that we should’ve been where they needed to be.
“That’s what we preach all summer,” he added. “It’s a learning scenario, and this does not keep us from any of our goals for the year. We’re still undefeated in the conference. We’ve got tournaments coming, and you know what, we’re still building, our kids are still learning and maybe we thought we’d accomplished something last week with a big win.”