By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
LAPEL, Ind. —
Elwood survived a wild shootout in the Class 2A sectional Friday night, outlasting Lapel 58-50 in a game that left the home crowd fuming.
The teams combined for 31 penalties totaling 238 yards, but it was the final two plays for the Bulldogs that set off their fans. Facing third-and-4 from his own 36, Lapel quarterback Brady Cherry appeared to find his top target, Bailey Partington, for a completion at Elwood’s 25-yard line.
But a flag flew in front of the Panthers’ sideline, and Partington was determined to have stepped out of bounds before coming back in to make the catch. That resulted in a 5-yard penalty for illegal touching and a loss of down.
On fourth down, Cherry’s pass was badly underthrown and landed about 15 yards short of the target. But fans felt a flag should have flown for pass interference against Elwood.
Instead, the Panthers took over at the Bulldogs’ 31 and ran out the final 1:35 for the victory.
The late drama threatened to overshadow a tremendous second half by Elwood senior Sammy Mireles. The state’s all-time leading rusher gained 161 yards and scored three touchdowns after intermission to help break open a tight game.
The Panthers led just 21-20 at halftime, but Mireles started the third quarter with a 49-yard scoring run. He later added a 1-yard touchdown run, and Elwood scored on a 1-yard run by Zane Boyer and a 32-yard swing pass from Alex Mireles to London Leavell to move in front 45-26 with 4:04 remaining in the period.
Lapel fought back with a 5-yard touchdown run by Joe Hart to pull within 11 points heading into the final quarter.
A 36-yard interception return for a touchdown by Alex Mireles put the Panthers back in front 51-32 with 9:32 to play, but the Bulldogs immediately answered with a 19-yard pass from Cherry to Austin Schilke and a 2-point conversion from Cherry to Partington.
After a 62-yard touchdown run by Sammy Mireles, Cherry hit Hart on a 29-yard swing pass for another score. The 2-point conversion from Cherry to Partington made it 58-50 with 3:43 to play.
Lapel’s defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, and the Bulldogs got the ball at their own 10-yard line to start the ill-fated final drive.
Hart had an outstanding game, rushing for 236 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. Cherry completed 27 of 46 passes for 339 yards and three scores, and Partington had a game-high eight catches for 151 yards.
Mireles finished with a game-high 239 yards and four touchdowns on 27 carries. He needs 68 yards to become the first player in state history to rush for 8,000 in his career.
The Panthers host Alexandria in next week’s semifinals.