Knights’ senior Noah Garrett #15 covers up the fumble by the Indians’ #22 in the home second round playoff game last Saturday. #5 Drew Cotton signals the change of possession. #8 Easton Frederick and #70 Kody Kornewald are also in the picture.
By SALLY McCARTHY
The final score of 28-8 in favor of the Johnston City Indians was no indication of the hard fought battle by the Arthur Lovington Atwood Hammond Knights last Saturday in the home IHSA Class 2A playoff game.
The game opened with the Knights receiving the ball and a very blustery wind put it at the 5. A false start on the first play dropped the Knights back a couple more yards and then the unimaginable happened. Knights’ senior leader, captain, starting quarterback, and U of I star recruit, Kaden Feagin gained 2 yards but went down with an injury and was out for the rest of the game. That could have put the team in total disarray but they proved their true mettle and played with their hearts the rest of the game.
Johnston City took advantage of the wind with good field position as the Knights punted into the strong wind. The Indians scored twice in the first quarter to lead 14-0 at the end of the first. After another punt, they ate up about nine minutes of the second. ALAH forced a turnover on downs and then ended the last seventeen seconds with an incomplete pass and a kneel down.
JC got the ball first in the second half but a huge tackle for loss by Knights’ senior Kody Kornewald on a fourth and one play which gave the ball to the home team as a turnover on downs.
On the Knights’ first series in the third quarter, senior Noah Garrett, who took over at quarterback went out put the team on his back and took them down the field. The red, black and gold picked up three first downs on the drive with Noah gaining 19 yards and Landon Waldrop picking up 17. The home team was helped by an encroachment penalty by the visitors on a fourth and two play. This put the ball at the Indians’ 13 yard line and Noah hits senior Drew Cotton in the end zone for a Knights’ touchdown. Noah ran in the two point conversion and the lead was cut to 8-14 with 2:44 left in the third.
The Knights’ defense forced a turnover on downs at the end of the third but gave the ball back to Johnston City with an interception of a Garrett pass. Noah made up for that on the very next play as he recovered an Indian fumble.
ALAH couldn’t convert a fourth and one play and gave the ball up on downs with 8:54 left in the game.
The Indians then scored on a 70 yard run but the Knights defense stopped the two point conversion and with 6:09 remaining the visitors were up 20-8.
After forcing another Knight punt into the wind, JC had good field position and scored the last td in the game on a 35 yard run and they also made the two point try that put the score at 28-8.
ALAH’s last possession saw Landon Waldrop haul in a pass and even though he looked like he would be stopped he managed to gain 36 yards. Noah picked up 13 yards on the ground and Connor Nettles caught a 3 yard pass that put the ball at the Indians’ 31 yard line with little time left on the clock. A last attempt saw Noah hand the ball off to Landon who threw a pass.
Unfortunately that pass was picked off by JC who then took a knee to end the game.
The Knights may have lost the game but after the adversity at the beginning that could have seen them give up, they fought all the way to the end with players stepping up when needed. This team played with heart the entire game and have a lot to be proud of. The seniors, Kaden Feagin, Drew Cotton, Chilton Ingram, Mason Allen, Steven Edwards, Daniel Arwine, Tanner Beckmier, Kody Kornewald, Bobby Schanuel, Caleb Corum, and Hunter Carnahan will be missed but have left a level of expectations for the rest of the team to work towards.
The Arthur Lovington Atwood Hammond football team would like to thank everyone, parents, family members, meal sponsors, Athletic Boosters, cheerleaders, and all the Arthur, Lovington, Atwood, and Hammond community members who have supported them throughout this amazing season.
After the game, Coach Jefferson posted this very fitting statement on the Knight Pride football facebook page, “Tremendous L.O.V.E. effort by the team today! To see the difference of our team from last year’s first game against Tri-Valley, to today’s playoff loss, is incredible. For those that don’t remember that game (I know, I try to forget too!), we had multiple starters go out in that game, and we had to throw in very inexperienced sophomores and freshmen. It was rough, but the worst part was how we, as a team, quit on ourselves. Fast forward to today, and we easily could have done that. But instead…starter/captain/leader goes down, and next person steps up! Another starter/leader goes down, and next person steps up! There wasn’t a big drop-off, we didn’t pout or feel sorry for ourselves. They went in and played the next play, for those guys who had to go out, and for the guys next to them. If this trend continues, and I think it will, you will see some special ALAH teams coming up! We had a lot of sophomores and a freshmen out there today, playing as confident as seasoned veterans. And who showed them the way of resiliency and adversity? This group of seniors. This is a group that had to fight their way back from an 0-3 start last year to get to 5-4 and make playoffs, while learning the hard truth about giving up in games or going into games with an ”already defeated” mindset. They changed the way they saw our team, and competition, and focus….and hopefully left an impression among the young guys on the team to do the same, and go beyond. This class of 2023 was challenged to LEAVE A LEGACY, and they have. They left a legacy I won’t forget, and they will be the first ones to congratulate the next group when they leave theirs. Thanks for the great season and memories, seniors! Knight Pride Semper Fi!”
Stats from yesterday’s loss against Johnston City:
Rushing – Noah Garrett, 16 for 55…..Landon Waldrop, 11 for 23…Mason Allen, 4 for 8….Maddix Stirrett, 2 for -1….Kaden Feagin, 1 for 2
Passing – Noah Garrett, 4 of 10 for 75, 1 TD, 1 INT
Receiving – Landon Waldrop, 2 for 59….Drew Cotton, 1 for 13 & 1 TD…Connor Nettles, 1 for 3
Tackles – Tanner Beckmier 16…Landon Waldrop, 13…Noah Garrett, 12…Drew Cotton, 7…Kody Kornewald, 7…Jacob Tighe, 5…Maddix Stirrett, 5…Colin Smith, 5…Nathan Tighe, 4…Connor Nettles, 4…Mackenley Bowles, 2…Ryan Appleby, 2…Mason Allen, 2…Easton Frederick, 2…Payton Warrior, 1
Tackles for Loss – Tanner Beckmier, 2…Kody Kornewald, 2…Mackenley Bowles, 1…Noah Garrett, 1…Drew Cotton, 1…Maddix Stirrett, 1…Nathan Tighe, 1
Fumble Recoveries – Noah Garrett, 1
SPECIAL TEAMS STATS
Kick-Offs – Chilton Ingram, 2 for 40
Punts – Landon Waldrop, 2 for 28…Noah Garrett, 1 for 49
Kick-Off Returns – Kaden Feagin, 1 for 2