Madison Central rallies late to defeat GRC

Published 10:30 am Monday, October 16, 2023

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In Winchester on Friday night, the George Rogers Clark High School football team looked for their first win against Madison Central since 2020.

Although the final score was the closest of any three games since then, the Cards came shy of victory.

The Indians scored on a 10-yard TD run from Bryant Mathis with 2:40 remaining in the 4th quarter, followed by a two-point conversion, and held on for a 16-13 victory.

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“[It was] a tough battle. You hate to lose close games like that,” said GRC head coach Joe Chirico. “You’ve got to grow from it.”

In a defensive battle, the Cards struck first in the opening quarter when sophomore defensive back Santi Guerrant forced an Indians’ fumble, leading to a recovery by freshman Trey Davis.

Shortly after, the Cards found the scoreboard as QB Sam Clements connected with running back Hayden Heath on a 21-yard TD pass.

Heath also broke several tackles for the Cards en route to gains on multiple carries.

After an extra point gave GRC a 7-0 lead, the Indians would move the ball, finishing with a 30-yard touchdown and two-point conversion run by Mathis, giving the team an 8-7 advantage with 8:33 remaining in the second quarter.

The score would remain the same until late in the first half when Clay Turley connected on a 36-yard field goal with 24 seconds remaining before halftime for a 10-8 lead.

Late in the third quarter, the Cards looked poised to add seven more points to the scoreboard.

As Indians’ senior quarterback K.J. Wells was being sacked by linebacker T.J. Hooten, a pass attempt landed in the arms of defensive tackle Hunter Gulley, who returned the ball 34 yards to the Indians’ 1-yard line.

However, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Cards moved the ball to the Indians’ 16-yard line.

With the Indians’ defense keeping the Cards out of the endzone, the team added to their lead following a 35-yard field goal by Clay Turley, his second of the contest.

“Kicking [is] a big part of the game…and we had some good plays,” Chirico “We just [have] to keep working…he did a good job.”

On an ensuing possession, the Indians got the ball close to the endzone, going for it on fourth down from the Cards’ 12-yard line.

Yet an aggressive GRC defense forced a turnover on downs as the Indians attempted to convert.

After a pair of penalties led to the Cards punting from deep in their territory, the Indians returned the punt inside GRC’s 10-yard line.

On the second play of the ensuing drive, Mathis would deliver the winning score.

The Cards’ offense did move the ball into field goal range as time neared an end, with Turley attempting his third field goal of the game – a 39-yarder – that would have sent the game to overtime.

Unfortunately for GRC, the kick came up short against an aggressive Madison Central front.

“We just yelled our brains out. [We] let the kids make some plays, and that’s what it came down to,” said Madison Central head coach William Blair. “[Coach Chirico] has taken this program, and he’s moving them in the right direction. Both teams fought!”

Chirico agreed with Blair’s assessment.

“I’m proud of our guys. They kept fighting through the whole thing,” he said. “We’ve just got to continue to work and practice.”