ELKHART – The Elkhart Elks performed their own rendition of John Elway's “The Drive” in their Friday night home victory against the Frankston Indians.
Down 28-24, with a little more than three minutes to spare in the fourth, the Elks were tasked with driving 99 yards to win the game. The first play, quarterback Cade Starr narrowly prevented Frankston from tackling him in the endzone for a safety, which would have effectively ended the game.
The next two plays would see Starr run for gains of 11 and eight. Another five-yard run from Starr helped move the ball but allowed the clock to drip to under a minute and a half remaining.
Having seen the Elks struggle to generate big plays through the air the majoirty of the night, the daunting task of driving another 75 yards in a minute seemed bleak. Until Starr lined back up. He looked left to right, took the snap, used a hard play action to freeze the defense and fired off a missle to RJ Moore down the right sideline.
“You set up stuff offensively [all game],” Elkhart coach Jason Fiacco said. “When it comes down to that play you're setting up and it's up and they capatilize on it it's a great feeling as a coach.”
Moore, who had been sidelined earlier in the second half to an ankle injury, outran the entire Indians' defense for a 75-yard touchdown.
“You have to, as a man, overcome adversity,” Fiacco said. You don't want to be in that situation, but we stuck to our gameplan. We had the play. It was something we came up with last week and the kids executed it perfectly.”
The stands shook with excitement as Elkhart fans roared from the bleachers. But with time still left on the clock, Frankston still had a chance. A short kickoff left around 50 seconds on the clock for Frankston to drive 50 yards to either win or tie the game.
The Elkhart defense forced a third-and-10 as the Indians were unable to move the ball. But a pass interfence call on cornerback Messiah Birdow afforded Frankston another first down.
The Frankston offense would not have a chance to take advantage of the gift as a couple plays later Holden Bush would force the game-clinching fumble. The sidelines erupted in celebration.
The fumble placed a capper on a night where the Elks had to show resilience in order to remain undefeated. After starting the game down, 14-0, Elkhart climbed back in the fight to reduce the Indians' lead to 14-12 heading into the half.
Fresh out of the half, Elkhart sliced eight minutes off the clock on a 12-play, 76-yard touchdown drive to give them their first lead of the night. Frankston watched as the Elks scored 18-unaswered points and fired back a three-play 67-yard drive of their own. The drive was capped off by Jesse Newman, who scored on a 57-yard touchdown.
With some of the momentum now in Frankston's favor, Elkhart responded in three plays with a RJ Moore 50-yard dash to the endzone.
Frankston met Elkhart's quick burst of points with a 10-play drive that put them on top 24-21. Elkhart's next drive would be cut short by a John Ashford fumble, but would get the ball back after they forced the first punt of the second half from Frankston.
“Man, that's a great high school football game,” Frankston coach Paul Gould said. “You hate to be on the losing end of it, but starting off the season that's the type of ball game you have to have if you want to talk playoffs. That's the atmosphere you end up having. The kids are going to get to work and get after it.”