Boys Varsity Football · Hanover Central football ends regular season with a close loss at Griffith

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Hanover Central ends regular season with a close loss at Griffith
Lowell Tribune

(Griffith) Since joining the Greater South Shore Conference in 2017, Griffith is unbeaten in conference play: 14-0 in official GSSC games. Hanover was a few points-after-touchdowns away from handing the Panthers an upset on Senior Night at the Boneyard.

Instead, Griffith (7-2, 7-0 GSSC) used the big play capability of senior RB Ernest Johnson and hung on for a 21-19 victory over the Wildcats (4-5, 3-4 GSSC).

Johnson had 176 yards rushing and 2 TD’s. He added a 59 yard punt return for a TD.

The Johnson punt return was the first score of the game (2 pt run good), giving Griffith an 8-0 lead.

Brandon Demoff’s two 1st half interceptions gave the Wildcats hope. Late in the 2nd quarter, Wildcat DE Michael Simon flushed Griffith QB Carson Crowe out of the pocket in his own end zone. Crowe’s pass was picked by Demoff at the Griffith 15. A few plays later Hanover QB Tyler Fruehling found Jack Kuiper for an 11 yard TD strike (XP kick good), and the Wildcats went to the locker room trailing 8-7.

A confident HC squad received the 2nd half kickoff and went on an 11 play, 89 yard drive capped by a 34 yard Fruehling TD pass to Adam Graham (2 pt conversion run no good), giving the upset-minded Wildcats a 13-8 lead midway through the 3rd quarter.

But Griffith answered with a 63 yd. scoring drive ending with a Johnson 9 yd TD run (2pt pass failed), making it 14-13 Griffith with 5:25 in the 3rd qtr.

The Panthers extended their lead to 21-13 with 5:34 in the 4th quarter on Johnson’s 3 yard TD run (XP kick good).

But Hanover would not quit. Bryan Hoover returned the ensuing kick 38 yards to the Griffith 47. Fruehling capped the drive with a 1 yard QB sneak with 1:36 left in the game. Trailing 21-19, the Wildcats needed a 2-point conversion, but a Fruehling pass fell incomplete.

Griffith recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock. The Panthers celebrated after the game with their GSSC South Division trophy.

It was a school record-breaking night for a few Wildcats. Fruehling finished with 189 yards and two TD passes in addition to his TD run. Fruehling’s two TD passes give the junior quarterback 14 in his career, the most of any QB in the modern-era (no records from 1968-1971 can be found).

Brett Driscoll led the defense with 11 tackles. The junior RB/LB now has 146 career tackles, surpassing David Krueger (Class of 2018) for most in the HCHS modern era.

Connor Wotherspoon added 9 tackles.

Demoff, the school’s career leader in receiving yards and career TD catches, finished with 101 yards receiving.

The IHSAA’s 46th State Football Tournament kicks off on Friday, October 19th. In Class 3A Sectional 25, Hanover Central will host Wheeler for a rematch of the Wildcats’ September 28th 16-14 loss.

For complete coverage of Hanover Central’s loss to Griffith, pick up a copy of the Lowell Tribune. Look for it at newsstands Wednesday

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Stats courtesy Adam Noel, Hanover Central football statistician