Tri-West scored 26 unanswered points to reach the Sectional 29 title game with a 32-18 win over visiting Edgewood Friday night.
The Bruins were slowed by penalties, turnovers and dropped passes through much of the contest, but successfully ran the ball and played swarming defense down the stretch.
“We just hung in there and kept playing,” Tri-West coach Chris Coll said. “We were a little frustrated but didn’t panic. Their kids executed their game plan well, and it was a tough game.”
Tri-West (9-2) will play at Brebeuf (8-3) next week in its first sectional championship since 2005. Brebeuf was a 24-0 winner over Western Boone Friday night.
“We’ll be looking forward to it,” Coll said. “Brebeuf’s probably one of the top three teams in 3A and plays a tough schedule. We’ll work on their personnel and scheme, but we’ll stick with what we’ve done all year.”
Edgewood’s Gabe Koontz scored on a 1-yard touchdown run on the first possession Friday night, but Tri-West answered with an 11-yard TD pass from Jake Hendershot to Casey Coll to tie it at 6-6.
The Bruins fumbled and punted on their next two drives. The latter set up Edgewood inside Tri-West territory, and Zack Harrison gave the Mustangs a 12-6 lead with a 2-yard TD run.
Tri-West had a 50-yard TD pass called back on a holding penalty four minutes before halftime, and Edgewood recovered a Hendershot fumble on the next play. The Mustangs upped their lead to 13 with a 26-yard TD pass from Harrison to Blair Boruff.
The Bruins drove to Edgewood’s 20-yard line a minute before halftime, but had four straight incompletions to end the threat.
The second half opened with Tri-West’s Rick Perry recovering a squib-kick at midfield, but the Bruins followed with a three-and-out. On their next drive, Hendershot drove the Bruins to the Edgewood 6, but threw and interception in the end zone.
After nine straight missed passes, the Bruins went to the ground, and a 1-yard sneak by Hendershot made it 18-13 with 11 minutes remaining. A sack by Bryce Hill halted Edgewood’s next drive, which ended with a 13-yard punt to its 31. Tri-West got to the 9, but failed to score.
Tri-West held again, and took over at the Edgewood 38, and Hendershot hit Wes Cook on a screen pass that went to the end zone for a score and a one-point lead with just over three minutes left.
On the ensuing kick, Perry recovered a fumble to give the Bruins the ball, and Cook followed with a 15-yard TD run.
Edgewood got its initial first down of the second half with one minute left, one play before Mustang Austin Smith was knocked out with a head-shot on an incomplete pass. Smith was okay despite being taken away on a stretcher, and Drake Stahl had an interception return for a TD on the next play.
“Our defense just came out in the second half and put the clamps on,” Coll said. “They kept us in the game and made it possible for us to make the comeback.”
Hendershot finished 8 of 24 passing for 132 yards and had 15 carries for 51 yards. Cook ended with 17 carries for 111 yards.
- Follow Hendricks County Flyer sports writer Brent Glasgow on Twitter @BGlasgow37