By Brady Extin | The Times-Post
PENDLETON — It was a battle of unbeatens, it was a battle of two teams more than familiar with one another, and it was a battle between a state-ranked Class 4A team, and one receiving votes.
But more than anything, it was a battle between one of the top defenses in the state against one of the top offenses.
At Pendleton Heights’s John Broughton Field, it was the offense that prevailed on Friday night.
A second-half 15-point comeback by the No. 6 Greenfield-Central Cougars (4-0, 2-0) led to a 43-38 victory against the Arabians.
The Arabians came in with the No. 1 defense in all of Class 4A. The Cougars had the top offense.
Greenfield-Central came into the night averaging 49 points per game, while the Arabians defense had pitched three straight shutouts to begin the season.
The Cougars wasted no time in putting the hopes of a fourth shutout to rest.
They took the opening drive 65 yards, capped off by a Dallas Freeman 2-yard quarterback keeper.
Four turnovers caused by the Arabians defense led to the next 24 points going in their favor.
Due to the turnovers, the four scoring drives all started near or beyond midfield.
A fumbled punt led to the Arabians starting at the G-C 35, their first scoring drive.
The next drive started at the 44 following an interception, a fumble recovery and return led to the Arabians next possession starting at the G-C 10, and the final scoring drive of the half for Pendleton Heights started at the 18 after another interception.
Isaac Wilson ran in the first score, and Colton Frank threw two touchdowns before the Cougars held the Arabians to a field goal.
A two-minute drill by the Cougars led to a Lane Wadle 12-yard touchdown pass from Freeman with just three seconds remaining in the half to trim the lead to 24-16 entering the break.
After halftime, the Cougars flexed the ability of their top-ranked offense.
The offense put up 27 second-half points helped by two onside kick recoveries.
After the Arabians opened the second half with a score on just four plays, capped off by a Keaton Jones 15-yard rush, the Cougars took over.
A 10-play drive of all running plays, led to the first of four straight G-C scores. Freeman punched in his second score of the night from 1-yard out.
Trailing 31-22, Greenfield-Central head coach Travis Nolting decided to make a game-changing call. The Cougars caught the Arabians off guard with an onside kick and recovery.
The Cougars took advantage of the recovery and after running the ball on every play the previous possession, Freeman hit wide receiver Kirk Knecht for a 29-yard touchdown.
A long Pendleton Heights kick return on the next possession gave the Arabians starting field position in G-C territory once again, but this time the offense was stalled.
A G-C 4-yard touchdown run by Cooper Hinton with just over 10 minutes left gave the Cougars their first lead since 8-0.
The second recovered onside kick by the Cougars in the half, allowed them to pad the lead. Jacob Hinton ran in his first score of the night from 12 yards out, and a successful conversion gave the Cougars a 43-31 lead with just six minutes remaining.
The Arabians added a score late on another Wilson touchdown run, but a fourth down conversion by Freeman, and then a tough run on third down by Jacob Hinton sealed the win.
Wilson finished the night with 108 passing yards, and had 27 rushing yards and two scores.
Frank completed five of his 10 pass attempts for 50 yards and two touchdowns. Caden Sims hauled in one of the touchdown passes and led the Arabians with 86 yards. Nate DeRolf caught the other and finished the night with 45 yards.
Keaton Jones ran for 41 yards and a score to lead the Arabians on the ground.
Defensively, Dresden Roberts and Nick Trout led the team with 23 tackles, Clint Miller and Rylan Keesling intercepted passes, and Eli Arthur and Nolan Souders recovered fumbles.
Roberts added a sack and forced one of the Cougars’ fumbles.
Pendleton Heights will look to bounce back tomorrow at 7 p.m. at New Palestine.