In search of a Hoosier Crossroads Conference title, Zionsville already knew that a stout Brownsburg defense would not be an easy obstacle to overcome.
A steady downpour on a chilly night then made it virtually impossible to move the football for both squads.
It was the Bulldogs that got the breaks, however. A short punt set up one score and the game’s lone big play set up the second as Class 5A No. 7 Brownsburg (8-0) grinded out a 14-0 victory to clinch the 2012 HCC football title Friday, Oct. 5.
“I know it’s a cliché,, but both teams had to deal with the same weather so I am never going to complain about it, “ Zionsville coach Larry McWhorter said. “They’ve had to play football in weather like this for over a century so it was not the only reason we struggled tonight.”
The drenching rain turned Brownsburg’s Roark Stadium into a muddy quagmire that would have been more fit for moving the football via canoe than on the ground. The teams combined for 13 fumbles with each losing the ball twice. Only 242 yards total were gained and not a single pass was completed. In fact, Brownsburg didn’t even attempt a pass while Zionsville’s (6-2) Parker Dunshee was 0 for 4 a week after throwing for 186 yards and four touchdowns against Fishers.
The Bulldogs were able to get an early break when a Dunshee punt into the wind only went for 17 yards, giving the Bulldogs the ball at the Zionsville 35. Chase Dutra scored five plays later when he somehow kept his feet to reverse field on a pitch and score from 14 yards out with 3:13 left in the first quarter.
Brownsburg’s second score was set up by one of the very few big runs of the night. Freshman running back Toks Akinribarde broke a 38 yard run midway through the second quarter to get Brownsburg back into scoring position. A few plays later quarterback Ian Good snuck in from a yard out on fourth down to make it 14-0 after a 10-play 62 yard drive.
“I was disappointed in the first half because we didn’t quite execute what we wanted to,” McWhorter said. “They made us look a little better than we were in the second half because they went so conservative. It’s tough to do much when you can’t hang on to the football though.”
The 14-0 lead by Brownsburg was more than enough as the rain made the field even worse as the game progressed. Zionsville managed a pair of first downs on its first possession of the game, but did not gain another first down until near the end of the third quarter.
All told, Zionsville managed only 105 total yards and five first downs. The Eagles reached the other side of the 50 only once when they turned the ball over on downs on the Brownsburg 48 with 8:31 left. That was Zionsville’s best drive of the night, but it still took nearly seven minutes to move only 36 yards in 12 plays.
“Our quarterback had a difficult time gripping the ball,” McWhorter said. “It’s not that the passing game wasn’t working. We weren’t even trying. We just tried to go with the running game we had in the game plan and execute it as best we could.
Aside from the run by Akinribarde and the 14 yard score by Dutra Brownsburg had only one play of longer than seven yards as they too struggled to move the ball. The Bulldogs finished with only 137 yards on the ground on 45 teams carries, with Akinribarde gaining 95 of those yards.
Cole Wendt was the most successful rusher on the night for Zionsville, earning 73 tough yards on 21 carries. Steve Wisnewski earned 39 yards on 11 carries, but that was really it as Dunshee lost nine yards on the evening due to multiple fumbles on snaps.
Zionsville returns home next week to face Avon with a chance to secure second place in the HCC. Brownsburg has already won the conference outright due to every other team having at least two losses.
The two teams will play again in the first round of the sectional it was announced Sunday night, Oct. 7.
The game will be at Brownsburg Oct. 19.