The Ben Davis Giants started their season off the right way with a 26-20 win over the class 5A No. 1 Cathedral Fighting Irish Friday night in the Horseshoe Classic at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Things looked good early for the Giants, holding the Cathedral offense to a three-and-out on the opening drive.
The offense started just as hot, as junior quarterback Kyle Castner hit sophomore running back Chris Evans for a 70 yard touchdown on Ben Davis’ first offense play of the season.
Evans’ success would be a recurring theme throughout the game.
Ben Davis head coach Mike Kirschner said Evans has even better football in front of him.
“He’s a real talented young man,” Kirschner said. “He’s just a sophomore. He’s got a long way to go mentally and understanding the nuisances of the game and (things like) lining up. He’ll get it with time, because like I said, he’s just a sophomore — he’s 15. He’s going to be pretty special before he’s done.”
Following the big play from Ben Davis, Cathedral answered with a 13 play, nearly seven minute drive that culminated on a 2 yard quarterback sneak from Collin Barthel. However, Ben Davis blocked the extra point try to make the score 7-6.
Late in the first quarter, Ben Davis responded with another touchdown strike from Castner, this time to senior Sean Boswell for a 19 yard score. After missing the extra point, Ben Davis led 13-6.
Both offenses stalled on the next two possessions, until Cathedral put together a seven play 80 yard drive, which ended with another short touchdown from Barthel who tied the game at 13.
Ben Davis regained the lead with about 8 minutes to go in the third quarter, as Evans continued his solid play taking a short screen pass from Castner 20 yards for the score.
Early in the fourth quarter, Cathedral got a big play from Tom Sieber who intercepted a pass attempt on a reverse and took it back 37 yards to tie it at 20-20.
After solid play from both defenses, Ben Davis took advantage of good field position late in the fourth quarter to score the winning touchdown on a run from Evans with about 50 seconds to go.
The Giants seemed to make a conscious effort to ride the sophomore to victory and gave him the ball on the last four plays offensive plays.
Kirchsner said Evans — who finished with 157 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns — grew up right in front of his eyes Friday night.
“He opens up the game with a 70 yard touchdown pass and (we) finished with basically his drive at the end where we’re just running inside zones,” he said. “He didn’t have a choice but to grow up, you learn by fire.”
Castner — who finshed with 275 passing on 15-25, with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions and was named MVP — said Evans is a great weapon to have.
“It’s unbelievable to see him out there,” he said. “He’s only a sophomore and he’s looking to be a go-to guy right now. He’s really proven himself and I really love the kid out there.”
Castner said despite some mistakes, he felt his team put together a good game.
“I have a great group of guys around me. We worked really hard and our coaches prepared us a lot this week,” he said. “I really love what we did out there. I know we got down a lot, but we kept our heads up and we fought back and I thought we did a really nice job.”
Kirschner said playing in an atmosphere like the Horseshoe Classic is a great experience.
“It’s a great way to open up high school football,” he said. “You’re the opening kickoff, 6 p.m. game, you’re on TV, and you got the great crowd — it’s what high school football is about.”