Team Indiana dominated the line of scrimmage on offense and defense, allowing quarterback Ben Slaton to throw two touchdown passes in a 35-0 victory over North Wisconsin the in Indiana bracket eighth grade title game of the FBU National Championship at Purdue
Team Indiana moved on the next round of competition next weekend in Virginia. The game capped two days of football in the Indiana bracket at Purdue's indoor football facility.
William Retherford, Team Indiana coach, said his squad needed to make a statement after a lackluster win on Saturday in front of the home state fans they did just that scoring on its first two drives in impressive fashion while shutting down North Wisconsin on the other side of the ball.
"Yesterday we came out flat and things were a little sloppy and I challenged all 34 players on the roster to do 11 different jobs and do all 11 of them perfectly," Retherford said. "I think they took that to heart today. We had outstanding blocking, especially on the run game. On defense, they kept the same intensity the entire game. When 11 people do their jobs, it's easy to get the win."
In fact, the first quarter was essentially a microcosm of the entire game. After limiting North Wisconsin to one yard on their first drive, Team Indiana needed five plays to march 75 yards after a punt, capped by Lance Stephens, III's 48-yard run off right tackle with 5:48 left.
North Wisconsin, playing without its top receiver Erik Bargholtz who scored three touchdowns on Saturday because of a back injury in that game, went three-and-out on its second series as well.
Larry Tracy III gobbled up the North Wisconsin punt at the Team Indiana 40 and darted around right corner to the opponent's 28. Five plays later, Slaton threw his first touchdown to Jack Kiser crossing the middle of the end zone from six yards out with 1:21 left in the first quarter.
North Wisconsin, though, seemed to find its rhythm offensively behind quarterback Carter Robinson, connecting with Nicholas Hummel on a 17-yard pass on their next possession to get into Team Indiana's territory but the drive stalled at 33 when Team Indiana's heavy pass rush forced Robinson to repeated dump the ball for completions.
"They have a great quarterback and a couple of strong slot receivers," Retherford said. "We knew if we let those guys get over the top of us, there were going to be threats, so all game long we nothing long over the middle. If they wanted to dink, dunk and do flat patterns, we'll give it to them but they're not going down the middle on us."
The complexion of the game changed, though, with about four minutes left to play in the second quarter when Robinson was injured after he was sacked by Team Indiana's Dalton Davis, leaving the signal-calling duties to backup Landon Kirby the rest of the way. Robinson, two plays earlier, hit Hummel again on a 21-yard pass to move the ball to the Team Indiana 22.
"Indiana is so strong that we needed to play our best game today to beat them," North Wisconsin coach Bob Monroe said. "Losing Erik really hurt and then we lost Carter when we still had a chance with the score just 14-0 and we were driving. Hats off to them because they were the better team today. I'm just disappointed we couldn't put forth a better effort but the injuries were too much to overcome."
After North Wisconsin drive stalled on the Team Indiana 30, Lashon Bright gave Slaton a brief rest at quarterback for Team Indiana and ripped off runs of 18 and 13 yards before later throwing a 38-yard touchdown pass to Colin Gardner for a 21-0 edge with 2:13 left before halftime.
Less than a minute later, Bryce Kirtz picked off Kirby and raced down the right sideline for a 41-yard touchdown to increase Team Indiana's lead to 28-0, which they look into the halftime break.
North Wisconsin would not get much offense going the rest of the game, finishing with minus-13 yards rushing and 41 yards passing, compared to 140 yards Team Indiana gained on the ground and another 107 in the air.
A big chunk of the passing yards came on Slaton's second touchdown, a 44-yard strike to Eric Long with 4:48 left in the third quarter for a 35-0 edge.
"The corners were playing inside so the deep routes would be open every time if our receivers ran pass them," Slaton said of the touchdown. "The safety would always roll left so it left the right wing unguarded."
Team Indiana's defense was equally as impressive, limiting North Wisconsin to three first downs, none in the second half.
Written by Youth1 Contributor Clyde Hughes
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