Article courtesy Richie Hall and the Hamilton County Reporter.
By RICHIE HALL
NOBLESVILLE – After addressing his happy Millers team at the conclusion of its gritty, entertaining and slightly crazy win over Franklin Central on Friday, Noblesville head football coach Dave Sharpe summed up his thoughts by saying this:
“They did it the hard way,” said Sharpe. “There’s no easy way out, they did it the hard way.”
The Millers picked up their first Hoosier Crossroads Conference victory of the season by outdueling the Flashes 20-13 Friday at Beaver Materials Field. Noblesville rode its defense to the finish line, with the special teams playing outstanding, too. The Millers’ young offense also played well, standing up to Franklin Central’s senior defense.
It all added up to a satisfying win that brought a three-game losing streak to an end.
“It doesn’t matter what level you are, a three-game losing streak is miserable,” said Sharpe. “Especially that last one. Our kids fought like crazy all week in practice. They know they’re good enough to beat these teams. They came out with intensity. I think we started with more of a bang. We started with more passion.”
The Millers’ first score of the game was due to its defense. The Flashes were beginning a drive on the 50-yard line, but it never began: Shayne Story intercepted the ball and took it 55 yards for a touchdown.
That gave Noblesville a 6-0 lead with 7:28 left in the first quarter, and the Millers held the lead for exactly one period. Franklin Central tied the game at the 7:31 mark of the second quarter when Josh Ruley punched the ball in from the one-yard line.
Noblesville got the ball back with under two minutes to go in the half and ground its way down to a 4th-and-4 at the 14-yard line. Grayden Addison was called in for a 31-yard field goal attempt, and nailed it perfectly, putting the Millers up 9-6 with eight seconds left in the half. Noblesville would not trail again.
The third quarter was mostly defense. The tone was set for the period when Sam Steinhofer made a sack that cost the Flashes 13 yards.
Noblesville added three more points to its side of the scoreboard with 42 seconds left in the quarter when Addison kicked another 31-yard field goal. This one put the Millers up 12-6.
Franklin Central then began a long drive that took the Flashes from their own 31 to the Noblesville 5. But the Millers defense was on FC’s case the entire time. Skyler Tolliver made a sack early in the drive, then Zach Blevins grabbed an interception with the Flashes at 4th-and-goal at the 10.
Noblesville now had the ball, but found itself pushed back to its own 5 in a 3rd-and-13 situation. No worries: Owen Jones blasted off on a 90-yard run, taking the ball from the Millers 5 to the Flashes 5. Two plays later, Jones sailed into the end zone on a three-yard run. Conner Meinerding then tossed a two-point conversion pass to Andrew Page, and Noblesville led 20-6.
“It was timely,” said Sharpe. “We were kind of in a four-minute offense mode. We’re trying to preserve our small lead and get a first down or two or three and win the game. But he went ahead and went about 90 and then he was able to score a couple plays later.”
Franklin Central answered quickly, though. It took the Flashes three plays to score, with Colin Badgero and Dennis Crawford teaming up for a 54-yard touchdown pass play. Juan Boyzo made the extra-point kick.
Noblesville was then held to a three-and-out, sending Addison out to punt. He delivered big time, with a 61-yard punt that forced FC to start from its own 8-yard line.
“How about that last punt? That’s how I want my pitching wedge to look,” said Sharpe.
With 92 yards to the end zone and 2:07 left on the clock, the Flashes started a furious drive. Badgero completed five straight passes to get the ball to the Millers’ 39. But the Noblesville defense stepped up one more time. With the Flashes 3rd-and-3 at the 32, their last two passes fell incomplete.
Aidan Walker led the Millers with eight tackles, followed by Blaine McNabb with six. Tolliver had 5.5 stops, with Jackson Slone and Alairic Rogers-Walton both making five. Slone also had an interception, joining Story and Blevins to give Noblesville three picks for the game. Jones totaled 185 yards rushing in 17 carries.
Noblesville is now 1-3 in HCC play and 2-4 for the season. The Millers play again at Beaver Materials Field next week, hosting Hamilton Southeastern.