MUNCIE, Ind. —
It was the second time the Indians converted a fourth down inside their own territory.
Anderson was unable to come up with points, however, and punted back to the Bearcats.
After another defensive stop, the Indians put together a scoring drive to retake the lead.
Beard scored for the second time, this time from 6 yards out, and Cody Gray’s extra point make it 19-16 early in the fourth.
The Bearcats responded in a hurry, taking just about a minute to put together a three-play, 42-yard drive that was helped by a late-hit penalty on the kickoff. Murphy hit Barrett for 39 yards, and DeAndre Barnum scored from 2 yards out to put Muncie Central back up 22-19 after a failed 2-point conversion.
The Indians had two chances to tie or take the lead but came up empty in the final four minutes. Beard was stopped short of the first down marker at the Bearcats’ 9 with just over 3 minutes left, but the Indians’ defense made a strong stand.
Two penalties hurt the Bearcats as they were forced to punt from their 2-yard line.
Punter Billy Walker stepped out of bounds for a safety, drawing Anderson back to within 1 at 22-21 with 2:31 left in the game.
Owens completed a pass to Jarmell Graves that took the Indians to the Bearcats’ 10, but a facemask penalty took the ball all the way back to the 32. Owens was sacked on the next play, and Parker Phelps picked off Owens’ final pass attempt with 20 seconds left to seal the win for Muncie Central.
“Our kids really competed tonight,” Albano said. “We’ve improved, we’re getting better every game and that’s all you can ask.”
The Indians had strong offensive performances from Owens and Beard, along with a solid effort from the defensive backs. Anderson defensive backs knocked down several Murphy passes that kept the Bearcats’ offense from moving the ball effectively.