The Journal Gazette
Saturday, November 27, 2021 1:00 am

Adams Central's fight lived on even as early lead evaporated

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Adams Central's early lead had evaporated.

In a 15-minute span, the Class A No. 2 Flying Jets had seen a 14-point advantage melt into a 7-point deficit in their state championship clash with No. 1 Indianapolis Lutheran on Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Saints took the lead for the first time on a deflating 71-yard touchdown pass with 3:10 left in the third quarter.

At that moment, it seemed as though Adams Central, so dominant for a 41/2-game stretch in the playoffs before that disastrous run of 21 straight Lutheran points, might fade quietly into a runner-up finish.

Instead, coach Michael Mosser gathered his veteran team and gave it a simple message:

“'Don't quit, you guys can't quit,'” Mosser said. “'We can't quit, you have to keep going. You have to go hard and you have to get things done.' We kept fighting until the end. Things didn't go our way and they didn't happen the way we wanted them to go, but in the end, I couldn't be more proud of (the players).”

The Jets (13-2) fell to Indianapolis Lutheran 34-28, coming up short of their second state championship and first since 2000.

But Adams Central battled. More than once, the Saints seemed poised to put the game away and each time, the Jets answered the call for one more big play, until an interception with little more than a minute left finally ended their chances.

The situation seemed bleak for Adams Central when, after the Saints took a 28-21 lead on the long TD toss, Jets quarterback Ryan Black threw an interception and Lutheran took over in AC territory.

But the Jets buckled down, and defensive lineman Corbin Hirschy dragged down quarterback Montasi Clay for a loss on fourth and 1 to stop a string of three straight scoring possessions for the Saints.

“They went up, but we just came together as a team,” senior Blake Heyerly said. “We said, 'Listen guys, we can do this, there's still time on the clock. We gotta go out there and get a stop.' We did it, we got a turnover and that was just a breath of fresh air, we figured out we could (come back). ... We stayed in it and fought hard.”

The Jets failed to score after Hirschy's sack, but they got the ball back when defensive back Nick Neuenschwander knifed across the field to undercut a Clay deep ball for an interception on Lutheran's next possession.

“We had to overcome adversity, which we did,” Neuenschwander said. “We played our hearts out, we didn't give up.”

For a second time, the Jets could not capitalize, coming up short on fourth and goal. Once more, however, the defense gave Adams Central an opportunity. Sophomore Ryan Tester ripped the ball out of the hands of a Lutheran receiver for a fumble recovery and set up the offense with another short field.

This time, the Jets ground attack made the turnover count – Heyerly powered in from 3 yards out to knot the score at 28 with 3:26 left. 

Although Adams Central was unable to close out the victory – Clay won it for the Saints with a 12-yard touchdown run with 1:13 to play – the back-and-forth last stretch was a fitting end for a senior class that has been building to this game for three years.

“That (senior) group is just such a special group for me,” Mosser said, his voice cracking. “They just did so much to play hard, to do their best and just get things done. ... I can guarantee these young guys are going to try to do the same thing (the seniors) did.”

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