YORKTOWN — Billed by some as a battle of backup quarterbacks, Friday’s Pendleton Heights Yorktown game turned out to be something completely different. It became a contest to see which team made mistakes at the most inopportune moments.
That team was the Arabians.
Pendleton Heights gave up two bizarre touchdowns late in the first half and fumbled away an opportunity to get back in the game in the third quarter as Yorktown stunned the Arabians 25-17 Friday, Oct. 6.
With the loss, Pendleton Heights fell to 6-2 overall (4-2, Hoosier Heritage Conference), while the win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Tigers as they improved to 3-5 on the season (1-5, HHC).
The Arabians came out flat to start the game, punting after a three-and-out on their opening possession. Two plays later, Brandt Applegate, Yorktown’s leading receiver who was filling in at quarterback, rambled 76 yards for a touchdown and a 6-0 Tiger lead, barely three minutes into the game.
The following Arabian drive ended after a pair of first downs, when junior tailback Taylor White fumbled and Yorktown returned it to the Pendleton Heights 29 yard-line. Six plays later, Applegate scored again, this time on a one-yard run for a 12-0 Yorktown lead.
“We didn’t play our game in the first half,” PHHS coach Jed Richman said. “I’m not sure if it was a maturity thing, a leadership thing or a coaching thing. Maybe it was all of the above.”
With 2:29 left in the half, Yorktown again found itself deep in Arabian territory following a fumble by Kirby Hess. But, the Arabian defense stiffened, forcing a fourth-and-goal from the 14-yard line.
Applegate rolled to his left, but was smothered by Arabian defenders for what appeared to be a big loss on the play. But, at the last second, he managed to shovel a pass off to Jordan Spangler who, while many looked on in stunned disbelief, found an open path to the end zone and an 18-0 Tiger lead.
The Arabians got their first big play on the ensuing kickoff. Senior Payton Burmeister returned the kick 56 yards to the Tiger 22 yard-line. That set up a five-yard run for a touchdown by junior Evan Douglas with just 57 seconds left in the half to make it 18-7.
But, the Arabian defense seemed to ease up and the Tigers took advantage. They drove 57 yards in five plays and just 36 seconds, as Applegate found Jared Harris in the corner of the end zone for a 20-yard score and a 25-7 halftime advantage for Yorktown.
Richman said while Applegate’s athleticism was impressive — he rushed for a game-high 116 yards and accounted for four touchdowns — there was no excuse for his defense.
“It was base stuff,” he said. “If we just had our gaps, tackled a little better and were more disciplined, we’re fine. You’ve got to give them credit, but we beat ourselves, too.”
The second half saw a much different effort from the Arabian defense. They allowed no first downs and just 37 total yards after halftime. But, despite its best efforts, the offense could not take full advantage.
The Arabians got a little closer. A 29-yard field goal from senior Thomas Quiroga pulled the Arabians to within 25-10 early in the third quarter. And with just a minute left in the third, Hess, filling in for injured starter Christian Conkling, found Eli Pancol over the middle, and the junior receiver did the rest, dragging two Yorktown defenders the final five yards into the end zone to pull the Arabians to within 25-17.
Twice in the fourth quarter, Pendleton Heights drove deep into Yorktown territory, but both times they came up empty. Hess came up inches short on a fourth down conversion and, in the closing seconds, his bid for a potential game-tying touchdown to Pancol was batted away at the last moment to seal the Tiger win.
The Arabians will close out their season Friday, Oct. 13, as they play host to conference foe Shelbyville, and Richman says they will need to be ready.
“We’ll be better next week (Oct. 13),” he said. “Now we get to face a good, strong, physical team in Shelbyville next week. Tonight, we just dug ourselves too deep a hole.”