Another year, another classic in the Saline County Showdown between Sacred Heart and Ell-Saline.
Last year, Ell-Saline came from behind for a 28-21 victory to hold the Knights out of the postseason.
The 2018 version might have been even better, as Ell-Saline overcame four turnovers–and yet another deficit–to beat their county rivals, 14-9.
It was a defensive slug-fest on Friday night in Brookville. Both teams were held well below their normal offensive outputs. Still it was a wale of a game.
Sacred Heart turned the first Ell-Saline turnover in to points as Charlie Skidmore kicked a 28-yard FG to put the Knights up 3-0 at the 5:06 mark in the first quarter.
The lead held until 8:37 to go in the first half, when Ell-Saline quarterback Nick Davenport found his target, Treyton Peterson for a 46-yard to TD pass to give the Cardinals its first lead, 7-3, which is what the score was at halftime.
Unfortunately for Sacred Heart, they lost their starting quarterback, David Anderson, midway through the second quarter with an apparent injury. Soph., Mac Hemmer–seeing his first meaningful varsity action–came off of the bench and played well for the Knights.
After a scoreless third period, Hemmer would connect with Skidmore on an 11-yard TD pass to give the Knights the lead back, however, the PAT was missed, so Sacred Heart led 9-7 with 10:30 left in the ballgame.
Ell-Saline was not to be denied though. After a 45-yard kickoff return, the Cardinals followed Davenport runs of 3, 14, 7, 8 and 4 in to the end zone to give Ell-Saline the lead back, 14-9, with 8:33 to go.
After both teams exchanged the ball, Sacred Heart had it with just four minutes left trailing by five. The Knights marched the ball downfield to the Ell-Saline 30. With three minutes remaining, Hemmer threw a beauty of a pass to an open Knight receiver, but he couldn’t complete the catch at the goal line, which would have given the Knights the lead.
After a Sacred Heart fumble and incompletion, the Knights were down to its last gasp, 4th-and-19. However, a Hemmer scramble was stopped well shy of the first down marker and Ell-Saline was able to run out the remainder of the clock.
Sacred Heart (2-5, 0-2 district) saw its best effort on the season defensively. The Knights held Ell-Saline unofficially to just 253 of offense–82 of which came on the ground. Sacred Heart turns its attention to winless Republic County next Friday on FM 104.9.
Ell-Saline (6-1, 2-0 district) overcame a series of mistakes–mainly penalties and turnovers–to win the county rivalry for a second-straight year in dramatic fashion. Ell-Saline will host defending state champion, Smith Center next week for a district title. Coverage can be heard on Real Country 101.7.