Hanover Central defeats Wheeler on Homecoming 17-7
(Cedar Lake, IN) On a chilly Homecoming Friday, the Hanover Central football Wildcats sent their fans home happy with a 17-7 win over Wheeler.
After going 1-5 against Wheeler in its first six games, the Wildcats (5-3, 4-1 GSSC) have now won two straight against the Bearcats (4-4, 3-3 GSSC).
Wheeler controlled the game on both sides of the ball for most of the first half, holding HC to just 60 yards of offense through the first two quarters. Hanover head coach Brian Parker shouldered the blame for the team’s early offensive woes.
“They came out in a defense we didn’t prepare for all week, which is on me,” Parker said.
Hanover’s first two possessions gained just 19 yards and resulted in two punts. Meanwhile the Bearcats got on the board early with a 22 yard Trey Gibson TD run midway through the 1st quarter. The extra point made it 7-0 Wheeler. The touchdown capped a ten play, 79 yard scoring drive.
Early on, it looked like the Bearcats might spoil the Homecoming festivities. But the Wildcat defense would hold Wheeler scoreless for the rest of the game.
Hanover tied the game at 7 when Adam Graham made a diving end zone catch on a 23 yard Blaze Cano throw with 4:39 in the 2nd quarter (Sergio Felix XP good).
The scoreboard read “7-7” as fans watched the 2019 HCHS Homecoming Court introduced on the field. Wildcat WR/DB Kyle Anderson was named Homecoming King. HC basketball standout Amanda Schreiber was named Queen.
Meanwhile, Parker tried to motivate his team in the locker room.
“Last week (against Whiting) we came out and scored 31 points in the second half. We told them at halftime I don’t care if we score two points in the second half, just find a way to win the game, and they did.”
With the game still tied late in the 3rd quarter and facing a 3rd & 25, Wheeler’s Hunter Reiff got behind the defensive backfield and QB Bryce Catherman found him for a 72 yard gain. It looked like a breakaway touchdown, but Hanover DB Jack Kuiper ran him down shy of the goal line.
Kuiper’s tackle would turn the momentum in Hanover’s favor. The Bearcats had 1st & Goal at the 6, but a holding call and a botched snap fumble on consecutive plays gave the ball back to HC.
“We tell our defensive guys, ‘Just give us an inch,’” Parker said. “We had a great hustle play to prevent a touchdown, then the holding call and the turnover. They gave us an inch.”
From there, the Wildcats marched on a 14 play, 64 yard touchdown drive that consumed nearly seven minutes. Brett Driscoll leaped across the goal line after catching a 23 yard Cano pass. Sergio Felix’s XP made it 14-7 Hanover with 7:44 left in the game.
“The defense obviously put the clamps down the second half, and the offense did enough,” Parker said. “We picked up some good conversions on that scoring drive.”
After the Wildcats secured the lead, the HC defense slammed the door shut.
On Wheeler’s next possession, HC forced a punt attempt that resulted in a botched snap. Hanover recovered inside the red zone. A few plays later, Felix kicked a 21 yard FG to give the Wildcats their final, 17-7 margin of victory.
Cano was 11/18 for 130 yards and 2 TD’s. Graham had 4 catches for 54 yards and one TD.
A blitzing Wildcat defense pinned its ears back and pressured Wheeler late, resulting in a number of lost-yardage plays. Max Warchol had 1-1/2 sacks, and Michael Simon and Austin Vankley applied a number of QB hurries. Driscoll led the defense with 7 tackles.
Senior cornerback Jack Kuiper had an interception late in the game, his fifth of the season, giving him the single season record for interceptions. He already holds the career interception mark. The pick was his 10th all-time as a Wildcat.
The Wildcats host South Central Friday night in the regular season finale, Senior Night at the Wildcat Den, before opening 3A Sectional 25 play October 25 at Twin Lakes.
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Stats courtesy Adam Noel, Hanover Central football statistician