‘That was awesome’

Football team advances to semistate with thrilling regional win

Mike Kirschner had a simple message for his football team late Friday night.

“That was awesome,” Kirschner told his team moments after a thrilling 40-36 win over rival Warren Central for the regional championship Friday night at Giants Stadium.

Awesome seems like the appropriate description for a game that will go down as one of the best ever played at home.

The lead changed hands seven times and the decision was in doubt until senior Kyle Castner  found junior Stori Emerson in the corner of the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown catch with 11.3 seconds left. Even after that, it took a forced fumble on Warren Central’s final last-ditch effort before the celebration could begin.

Warren Central took a 36-33 lead with 1:41 left when its 45-yard field goal attempt hit the cross bar and bounced through. The Giants then started their final possession on the 16 yard line and drove 84 yards in one minute and 30 seconds for the regional-winning touchdown.

Castner, a candidate for Mr. Football this year, finished the game with 24 completions in 40 attempts for 196 yards and four touchdowns.

Junior Chris Evans handled the bulk of the running with 155 yards in 25 attempts and two touchdowns. Senior Dorian Tate gained 42 yards in 11 carries before a sprained ankle sidelined him in the second quarter. Evans also caught five passes for 41 yards and two more touchdowns.

The Giants missed two extra points and gave up a safety on a bad snap during a punt attempt. Special teams also allowed a fake punt to go for a touchdown.

Despite those mishaps on special teams, the Giants rallied for the awesome win.

The win sets up a semistate game this Friday at home at 7 p.m. against MIC rival Center Grove. Ben Davis beat Center Grove 28-0 during the regular season. The winner this Friday advances to the Class 6A state championship on Nov. 29.