By Nicole Minier
CHURUBUSCO — Churubusco’s football team was hoping for two wins Friday night — an Eagle victory over West Noble, and an Eastside win over Central Noble.
The Eagles got exactly what they wanted, beating West Noble 35-13, and Eastside topping Central Noble 21-7 to give Churubusco a share of the Northeast Corner Conference Title.
Churubusco rebounded well after its first loss of the season to Central Noble last week. Eastside (5-3), Central Noble (6-2) and ’Busco (7-1) finish out conference play with one NECC small division loss apiece.
“We have a young team and a lot of guys who have stepped up,” Churubusco head coach Paul Sade said. “Sharing a conference championship gives us great confidence heading to the playoffs and for years to come. A three-way tie is not ideal, but with a young team, we’ll take anything.”
In the West Noble/Churubusco game Friday, both teams came out strong defensively, as the first three possessions ended in punts.
Churubusco struck first blood, scoring on a 44-yard drive led by five carries by Nathaniel Keener, ending on a 5-yard touchdown run by Sam Wood.
It appeared the Eagles would hold their lead through the first quarter — but Brandon Pruitt had something different to say about that. West Noble took over the ball with two minutes left in the quarter and scored within 23 seconds of taking possession with a 53-yard reception by Pruitt to tie the game, 7-7.
Churubusco answered with a long drive that ended on an 11-yard touchdown run by Gage Kelly, giving the Eagles a 14-7 lead that carried through halftime, as neither team could pick up ground offensively.
West Noble’s offense significantly changed when Pruitt was taken off the field due to an injury.
“He’s a dynamic player,” Sade said. “Watching film this week, he was someone we wanted to account for in every play. When he went out of the game it probably limited them a little bit.”
West Noble was limited in the second half, unable to score until the 2:48 mark of the fourth quarter on a 7-yard run by Spencer Shrock.
Churubusco found the end zone three times in the second half, first on the Eagles’ second drive of the half. In their first possession, West Noble’s Josh Gross intercepted a Churubusco pass to end the drive.
The Eagles used runs by Keener and Joey Emenhiser to get to the 30-yard line, and Kelly ended the drive with a touchdown with 5:36 left in the third quarter.
A minute later, Sam Wood intercepted at West Noble pass to put the Eagles back into scoring position — 22 yards from the end zone. Kelly once again scored on a 15-yard carry to put Churubusco ahead 28-7.
“We typically haven’t played well in the third quarter offensively,” Sade said. “We knew we wanted to move the ball in the third quarter, and Keener ran the ball hard.”
Keener scored Churubusco’s last touchdown of the game on a 4th-and-2 from the Eagles’ 15-yard line in the fourth quarter. West Noble put the last touchdown on the scoreboard to make the final score 35-13.
Sade was pleased with his team’s defensive effort against West Noble.
“Defensively we played well — that was a difficult team to defend,” Sade said.