After its fumble-laden loss at Lake Central, the last thing Chesterton
wanted to do Friday against Crown Point was to put the ball on the ground
again, let alone on its first snap.
Yet, that's what happened when Chris Katsafaros' errant pitch to Joe Troop
was recovered by the Bulldogs at the Trojans 8-yard line.
Two plays later, Chesterton was down 7-0.
"The first thing that came to mind was, itís Lake Central again," Troop
said. "I had to tell them, relax, it's early, the defense is doing a
Troop's words may have soothed his teammates, but not as much as his
actions. Later in the quarter, he raced 81 yards on a pitch play down the
sideline for a tying touchdown. On the Trojans' next possession, he dashed
45 yards on another pitch, leading to his 16-yard score on a Katsafaros
swing pass that put them in front 14-7.
It was a lead Chesterton (7-1, 5-1) would never relinquish as it staved off
C.P. for a 28-21 Duneland Athletic Conference victory.
"We bounced back, which was good," coach John Snyder said. "We could've sat
there and felt sorry for ourselves. We had a real heart to heart this week.
After the first couple days of practice, we were like, 'Get over it.' The
defense bent but didn't break and the offense did what it had to do. It's a
good bounce-back victory."
Troop touched the ball just six times on offense, amassing 174 yards.
"Perimeter blocking is one of the things we've been trying to get the most,"
he said. "When we have it, we get big plays. I just follow my blocks and
things happen. (The defense is) always calling out my name. The coaches are
trying to get them to think we're doing one thing and we do another. With me
moving around, hopefully we can confuse them."
Troop also logged plenty of yards going in motion back and forth along the
line of scrimmage as Snyder continues to find ways to free him up.
"We need to do it more," Snyder said. "He's a big-play guy. We'll do what
we've got to do."
Jon Horvath was Chesterton's workhorse, toting the ball 25 times for 87
yards and a 9-yard TD that put the Trojans up 21-7 in the third. Katsafaros
scored from three yards out with just under five minutes left to
re-establish a 14-point margin at 28-14.
"The offensive line got off the block better," Snyder said. "Of every
position on the team, that one's been a revolving door. Guys are hurt, sick.
We don't know until Thursday if they're going to play. To their credit,
they've stuck together and played well."
Crown Point (5-3, 3-3) got back within a touchdown with 59 seconds left on
QB Jake Jatis' third running score, but Andrew Ralph secured the onsides
kick, withstanding a big hit to secure the outcome.
Tristan Peterson, who torched the Trojans last season, returned from a
suspension for C.P., but was held in check (60 yards on 18 carries). Jake
Jatis completed 20 of 34 passes for 179 yards, though Chesterton was largely
able to force him to dink and dunk underneath coverage.
"They've got skilled receivers, so it forces us to go out and cover them,"
Snyder said. "Our defense has been solid against the run. They kind of
embarrassed us last year. It was a pride thing. We didn't give up any big
Katsafaros connected on 5 of 10 passes for 109 yards, 69 of them to Avery
Beeks and 40 to Troop, and also recorded 68 yards on 15 carries. The 398
yards of offense was tempered by three fumbles, two of which were lost.
"I'm frustrated with us putting the ball on the carpet," Snyder said. "We've
got to make it a personal commitment, that we're not going to do this."
That aside, the Trojans will host Merrillville on Friday with a chance at
sharing the DAC title. The Pirates whipped Lake Central, 38-17 to remain
unbeaten in the conference and knock the Indians (6-2, 4-2) out of a tie
with Chesterton for second.
"We can't win it, but at least we can tie," Troop said. "That's better than
Crown Point 21
First Downs 16 18
Total Yards 398 277
Rushes-Yards 44-289 33-98
Passing 5-10-0 20-35-0
Passing Yards 109 179
Fumbles-lost 3-2 0-0
Penalties-Yards 6-64 5-40
Punts-Avg. 2-42.0 7-27.3
Chesterton 7 7 7 7 -- 28
Crown Point 7 0 0 14 -- 21
CP -- Jake Jatis 6 run (Evan Markowitz kick)
C -- Joe Troop 81 run (Nate Needham kick)
C -- Troop 16 pass from Chris Katsafaros (Needham kick)
C -- Jon Horvath 9 run (Needham kick)
CP -- Jatis 3 run (Markowitz kick)
C -- Katsafaros 3 run (Needham kick)
CP -- Jatis 1 run (Markowitz kick)