LEBANON – Colin Price had a solid season opener last week against Pike for Zionsville, carrying the ball 33 times for 170 yards and a touchdown.
He upped his effort in Week 2.
Lebanon’s defense had little answer for Price on Friday night, as the Eagle sophomore carried the ball 23 times for 277 yards and four touchdowns as Zionsville moved to 2-0 with a 47-33 win over the Tigers.
“Colin does a great job week in and week out in being steady for us, and making big plays when they are there,” Zionsville head coach Scott Turnquist said. “He is showing us week in and week out what he is a capable of and what he can do. He is doing big things, and he is going to get better, but he is operating at a high level for sure.”
It was Lebanon who struck first in the game, when Garrett Harker scrambled in from five yards out to make it a 7-0 game.
Zionsville responded seven plays later, when Price scored from 28-yards out, but the extra point was missed to make it 7-6. On the Eagles’ next possession, Price capped 12-play, 89-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown to give the Eagles their first lead of the game.
But Lebanon had the answer, with Harker connecting with Michael Reese for a 26-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-13.
“We did a great job of coming out and doing what we wanted to do early,” Lebanon head coach Jeff Smock said. “We have really, really harped on starting the game the right way, and defensively it was huge for us. There was a ton of positives. We wanted to turn this into a dogfight and see what happens in the fourth quarter. We were ready for the dogfight, I just think Zionsville was a little more ready.”
Zionsville retook the lead late in the first half on a 27-yard field goal by Chris Freeman with 1:19 left.
Lebanon was going to get the ball first in the third quarter, and were in a good position, but then disaster struck.
Harker was picked by Davis Moore at the Lebanon 43, and the Eagles needed just six plays to score on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Cole Wiseman to Brody Whitesell with 22.2 left in the half.
“Davis made another big play when we needed him too,” Turnquist said. “We thought that was a play that could really turn the tide for us and it did for a little bit, but we just didn’t finish the way we needed to. We will learn from it and get better next week.”
A week after having some key turnovers that hurt the Tigers against Mooresville, it was another one at an inopportune time.
Smock said the Tigers had thought about running out the clock and just getting into the half, but decided to see what they could get.
“It’s one of those things that you want to be aggressive when you can be and we thought we were clear that if you are going to take a risk, make it a calculated one,” Smock said. “Mistakes happen, and it just happened in a bad spot tonight. But I was proud of the way (Harker) bounced back in the third and four quarter and how he played his tail off. It’s just about cleaning things up right now.”
The Eagles carried that momentum into the third quarter and were able to create some breathing room.
Price scored from 35 yards out to make it 30-14 with 5:16 left in the quarter, before Wiseman connected with Whitesell again, this time from 35 yards out to make it 37-14.
The Eagles seemingly had the game in hand, but a touchdown run by Trevor Winkles and then a trick play touchdown pass of 79 yards from Michael Reese to J.C. Reese made it 37-27 with 7:24 to go in the game.
But Price ended the Lebanon comeback bid, scoring on a 65-yard run on the next play from scrimmage to put the Eagles back up 17.
Harker, who threw for 322 yards in the game, found J.C. Reese for a touchdown late in the game, and Freeman added a 42-yard field goal for the final margin.
The Tigers are 0-2 on the season and travel to Danville next week.
The Warriors lost to Mooresville 27-20 on Friday night. Smock said that the Tigers faced two really good teams in Mooresville and Zionsville, and now hopes that those lessons carry over into Sagamore Conference play.
“We really upped our schedule in the summer too, and I don’t know if I felt like a team was more battle tested going into Week 3 then this,” Smock said. “We know that Danville is a really good football team, but I think our guys are ready for conference play. You can see the signs of a great team, and now are hoping we put it together.”
Wiseman threw for 215 yards and two scores for the Eagles.
Whitesell caught two touchdown passes and had 77 yards receiving.
The Eagles are 2-0 for the first time since 2016 and haven’t been 3-0 since 2012.
They host 2-0 Westfield next Friday.
“We have to make sure we are clear on doing the things the way we do them,” Turnquist said. “We have to take care of our business. That is everything from technique to effort to scheme to everything else. It’s a tough schedule, but we know that and we are ready for it.”
Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Zionsville Times Sentinel and Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.