With the offense struggling and their team down 17-2 at the half, the Western Boone defense knew they had to step up.
They did, and gave Western Boone a chance to win against Class 5A No. 15 Harrison, but ultimately the Class 2A No. 10 Stars fell just short 17-12.
Western Boone is 1-1 on the year.
“Our kids gave a great effort all night,” Western Boone head coach Justin Pelley said. “Our defense kept us in the game and gave us a chance. We left a lot of plays on the field tonight, and that hurt us. Overall, I can’t be disappointed in our effort, and we played a heck of a Harrison team that deserved to win tonight.”
Western Boone fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter, but after that the defense stood firm against the Raiders.
Harrison’s only points the rest of the game were a pick-6 in the second quarter that gave them a 17-2 lead at the break.
“We really just gave up two big plays in the first quarter that led to their points,” Western Boone defensive coordinator Travis Brunes said. “Our guys are great students of the game, and in between series we looked at the mistakes and got them corrected. They are really good listeners and follow what we tell them to do, and that is really showing up in games.”
Western Boone cut the deficit to 17-5 late in the third quarter on a 39-yard field goal by Solo Huckstep.
The Stars made it a one-score game in the fourth, when Garrett Miller intercepted a screen pass and ran it 20 yards for touchdown with 8:24 left to make it 17-12.
“The biggest thing with our defense is they are upperclassmen and they are fundamentally sound,” Brunes said. “They understand what they have to do and they hold themselves accountable. A lot of them have experience playing the last few years and that shows. They are great at wanting to watch film and wanting to get better each week.”
Harrison drove down into Western Boone territory as the clock ticked away in the fourth quarter, but again the Stars’ defense stepped up.
Western Boone got the ball back on a fumble, and took over at their own 30 with 2:30 left in the game. Western Boone got down inside the Harrison 30 with 20 seconds left, but four passes to the end zone fell incomplete and Harrison survived.
Pelley said the Stars have to clean some things up offensively moving into conference play.
“Harrison was a tough defense, but we have to get better at running the ball, there is no question about it,” Pelley said. “We gave them a pick-6, fumbled at the 1-yard line and had a field goal blocked — you can’t do that in big games. I am so proud of our defense and they kept us in it, we just couldn’t make a play at the end.”
Western Boone will be back at home next Friday when they host Crawfordsville.
The Athenians stunned the Stars 28-27 last year, ending a long Stars winning streak over their neighbors to the west.
“The way we played tonight should be all the incentive we need to bounce back next Friday,” Pelley said. “But it doesn’t hurt that it is the start of conference play and that they got us last year. We need to be ready to go from the first play and be ready for a tough game.”