INDIANAPOLIS — The most dangerous opponent in high school football can be the one you’re playing a second time.
That’s the lesson the 2012 Ben Davis Giants learned last Friday as their season came to an end at the hands of the Pike Red Devils in a 35-25 loss in the first round of Class 5A Sectional 6.
The Red Devils avoided the turnovers that caused their 24-0 demise in the Week 2 meeting between the two teams.
Instead, it was Ben Davis that was plagued by critical mistakes in nearly every aspect of play. Pike limited its errors to a lone interception, while Ben Davis had four turnovers, including a game-clinching pick-six 17-yard interception by Quentin Moon off Giant quarterback Kyle Castner.
“Once Pike got turnovers, they got momentum and played harder,” Ben Davis coach Mike Kirschner said. “We were on our heels, and I don’t know why. It was in all facets — Pike played great, and we just didn’t play well.”
Pike got the initial edge in the first quarter with Brent Lyles finishing off an eight-play drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Tyrez Boyd.
But Ben Davis answered with Tony Allen’s 90-yard kickoff return. But signs of what the night had in store for the Giants came on the extra point when a bad snap led to a failed PAT, and left Ben Davis down 7-6 on the first missed extra point of the 2012 season.
And with Pike’s defense throttling the Ben Davis offense to just 39 yards in the first half, the Giants fell further behind after Lyles opened the second quarter with a 40-yard strike to Devin Pearson for the Red Devils’ second touchdown.
The Ben Davis deficit grew to 21-6 in the third quarter when the Giants still couldn’t gain yards in their first three possessions.
Pike coach Derek Moyers knew his team was better than what showed in the first meeting against the Giants.
“Our defense doesn’t get enough credit, but they got us the ball in some good spots, and forced (Ben Davis) to turn the ball over,” Moyers said. “We didn’t turn the ball over like we did the last time. Getting the lead was huge, because we made them one-dimensional.”
After that, Ben Davis’ offense finally found some spark. Castner split two Pike defensive backs to connect with Michael Beaty for a 40-yard score. However, a second missed extra point left Ben Davis down, 21-12.
The Giants followed up with Castner gaining another 77 yards via the air before LJ Gildon punched in a 1-yard run with 9:14 to play, cutting the score to 21-19.
But that was the closest the Giants would come leading in the contest.
Pike capitalized on two 15-yard penalties and Sanders scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 4:45 to play. Then, Castner tried to make something happen while under a heavy rush, and found Moon for the interception, making it 35-19.
Ben Davis tried to come back, with Beaty catching a 32-yard touchdown pass with 2:38 to play. But Castner’s second interception, this time to Keith Cork with 1:59, ended any remaining comeback hopes.
Ben Davis ended the year at 8-2, taking a third of the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference title.
“This season was still a success,” Kirschner said. “To be as young as we were, we won the MIC title, and that’s hard to do.”