Independence’s varsity football team defeated Hough 38-33 Friday night in front of a hostile crowd in Cornelius.
The Patriots’ defense was solid early, shutting out the Huskies in the first half. Kahlil Gonzales and Jack Tocho both had interceptions for Indy.
After rushing touchdowns by RJ Baker and Evan Guest, the Patriots took an early 14-0 lead.
Hough made some amazing halftime adjustments and put 31 points on the board in the last 24 minutes, scoring 21 in the fourth quarter.
The hot, humid weather looked to take its toll on both teams’ defenses. The Indy unit looked exhausted at the end of the game, having spent the majority of time on the field.
Brandon Jackson’s two sacks and Austin Duke’s late interception sealed the win for the Patriots. The result was a pleasant contrast from the first game Indy played last season.
“We were in the first game last season and we just wore out,” said Head Coach Bill Geiler. “This year we wore out a little bit, but our seniors just refused to lose. They had to make the plays at the end and they did.”
Quarterback Evan Guest threw for 237 yards and one touchdown. Baker rushed for two scores, and Duke went 95 yards receiving with a touchdown and a kickoff return for a score.
“The coaches asked me to step up, so I have to make some plays to help the team win,” said Duke. “It’s not about me, it’s about the team. We’ve gotta keep working hard right now. This wasn’t a satisfying win, but we got the win.”
Even with Duke’s versatility on the field, he was not considered as valuable as the new kicker by Coach Geiler. Morgan Boyle is a junior on Indy’s soccer team who played his first football game on Friday.
“I can’t say enough about my kicker,” said Geiler. “I’ve never had a soccer player before. Kicking in the end zone on kickoffs, and that field goal was huge. He was awesome today. I think the MVP was the kicker.”
As the weather cools and the players develop more stamina, look for the Patriots’ defense to play more effectively at the end of games this season. This Friday at North Meck will be the perfect litmus test for Indy’s defensive unit.