It’s not easy to be calm and urgent at the same time.
But the Independence football team managed to do it on Friday night during a 20-10 road victory at Christ Presbyterian Academy.
Even after falling behind 10-0 in the opening eight minutes against the defending Division II-AA state champions, the Eagles (1-1) didn’t lose their composure or stray away from the gameplay. They simply ramped up their intensity — while staying in control of their emotions.
“I felt like we relaxed and played ball tonight,” said Indy quarterback Ethan Cash. “Last week (in a season-opening 34-15 loss to Summit), we were too uptight and had too many turnovers. Tonight, I was just really proud of how we fought the whole game.”
Cash had a busy night. He completed 19-of-36 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown while directing a turnover-free performance by the Indy offense. Jaxson Campbell was Cash’s favorite target, finishing with six catches for 91 yards. Brian Pierce added four catches for 52 yards, and also had an interception on defense.
Cash and Campbell hooked up on an 11-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of the third quarter to give Indy its first lead of the game, 13-10. The Eagles then put the game away late in the fourth quarter when Jack Phillips scored on a six-yard run with 1:53 remaining.
The Independence defense had a solid performance, coming up with a stream of big plays while holding CPA (0-2) scoreless after the first quarter.
Indy coach Scott Blade said it was a special victory for the Eagles, and said he was proud of the way his team handled the high-energy environment.
“Hats off to our kids and our coaching staff,” Blade said. “This was an intense night. … This is a really good CPA team, and they are the defending state champs for a reason. They know how to win and they know what it’s about. So, for us to come here and win on their field — especially after suffering an ugly loss last week — I was really proud of our team. We fought the whole way through and found a way to get the win.”
CPA jumped out to a 3-0 lead when Mac Seibert connected on a 24-yard field goal on the Lions’ first possession of the game. CPA extended the lead to 10-0 when Tyler Reid scored on a six-yard run with 4:36 left in the first quarter.
Reid finished with 78 yards on 17 carries for the Lions, who are in the process of replacing 31 seniors from last year’s undefeated state title-winning team.
Indy got on the board with a nine-play, 55-yard scoring drive midway through the second quarter that was capped by Ethan Pickering’s one-yard run, cutting CPA’s lead to 10-7.
The Eagles threatened to score again in the final minute of the second quarter, moving inside the Lions’ 10-yard line, but the CPA defense stiffened at the goal line and held Cash out of the end zone on a quarterback sneak from the one-yard line on the final play of the first half.
Cash said the Eagles were frustrated — but not deflated — by the missed scoring opportunity.
“We still felt like we had the momentum on our side when we went into halftime,” he said. “We actually should have put the ball in the end zone three times in the first half, but you can’t focus on your mistakes. You just have to learn from them.”
CPA maintained its 10-7 lead until deep into the third quarter, when Cash found Campbell for the go-ahead touchdown. CPA then put together a long drive to open the fourth quarter, but the Lions came up empty when Seibert’s 43-yard field goal attempt fell just short with 6:55 remaining in the game.
The Indy offense salted the game away with a four-minute drive that was capped by Phillips’ clinching touchdown with 1:53 to go.
When the game ended, the Indy students were prepared to rush the field, but they were prevented from doing so in order to ensure the safety of all involved. All the same, the victory was quite a rush for the Eagles — and Blade said he was going to let his team have some time to soak it in.
“I want the kids to enjoy this,” he said. “You only have 10 games each year, so every victory is special. Every Friday night is special. And I want the kids to enjoy it.”
Independence 20, Christ Presbyterian Academy 10
Indy – 0 7 6 7 — 20
CPA – 10 0 0 0 — 10
1st Q (10:02) — CPA: Mac Seibert 24 FG
1st Q (4:36) — CPA: Tyler Reid 6 run (Seibert kick)
2nd Q (7:36) — Indy: Ethan Pickering 1 run (Sam Henke kick)
3rd Q (0:48) — Indy: Jaxson Campbell 11 pass from Ethan Cash (run failed)
4th Q, (1:53) — Indy: Jack Phillips 5 run (Henke kick).
First downs: Indy 20, CPA 13
Rushes-Yards: Indy 32-134, CPA 32-138
Passing Yards: Indy 202, CPA 59
Penalties-Yards: Indy 4-26, CPA 10-73
Punts-Average: Indy 4-31.0, CPA 5-22.6
Fumbles/Lost: Indy 0-0, CPA 2-1
Indy: Jack Phillips 7-49, Ethan Cash 12-31, Ethan Pickering 6-24, Jaxson Campbell 1-24. CPA: Tyler Reid 17-78, Andrew Whitley 9-70, Cade Law 6-14
Indy: Jaxson Campbell 6-91, Brian Pierce 4-52, Jack Phillips 3-22,. CPA: Sam Ellis 3-16, Maverick Rodriguez 2-26
Indy: Ethan Cash 19-36-0-1 — 202. CPA: Cade Law 6-14-1-0 — 52; Zee Thompson 1-2-0-0 — 50