It was a homecoming heartbreak Friday night for the Seymour football team.
Trailing Hoosier Hills Conference foe Bedford North Lawrence 17-0, the Owls scored with 25 seconds remaining in the first half to pull within nine points. Twice in the second half, BNL pulled ahead by double figures only to see the Owls creep back into the game.
But a couple of costly mistakes down the stretch hurt the Owls, and the Stars were able to milk the clock in the fourth quarter and stymie the Owls for a 31-24 win.
“We had a couple of games last year where we came out of nowhere and won games we probably shouldn’t have won, so our kids don’t really get too fazed by being down,” Seymour coach Josh Shattuck said.
In the end, he said three things were key to the loss — a long opening-game drive that resulted in a fumble at the 2-yard line, a snap that sailed over the punter’s head and resulted in a safety in the second quarter, and an interception return for a score by the Stars in the third quarter.
“We’re just not good enough to be able to make those mistakes and win. Really, not many teams are good enough (to recover from those errors),” Shattuck said. “There is a 16-, 17-, 18-point swing right there in three plays, so it was just too much to overcome.”
Following the Owls’ first-quarter fumble near the end zone, the Stars marched 96 yards in nine plays to go up 7-0 at 4:40. Conner McCullough capped it off with a 2-yard run, and Esteban Flores’ PAT was good.
After a Seymour three-and-out gave the ball back to BNL, the Stars reached the 18-yard line before Flores attempted a field goal. But he shanked the ball to the left.
Continuing a drive at the start of the second quarter, BNL fumbled at Seymour’s 21-yard-line. After forcing an Owls punt, the Stars picked up two points when a snap went over the head of Owls punter Todd Kiewitt, and he kicked it out of bounds.
With 2:19 remaining in the half, BNL’s Drew Roberts ran 24 yards for a score, and McCullough’s two-point conversion run was good, making it a 17-0 score.
The Owls didn’t back down. Starting at their own 36-yard-line, they rolled down the field and scored when Jackson Morris ran in from 8 yards out. An ensuing fake PAT turned into a two-point conversion pass from quarterback Alan Perry to Morris to pull Seymour within 17-8.
BNL got off to a quick start in the second half when Joe Jackson intercepted Perry on Seymour’s first play and ran into the end zone. Flores made a PAT for a 24-8 score.
The Owls responded by driving 76 yards but failed to convert a fourth down at the 4-yard line.
After BNL had to punt on its next possession, Seymour only used four plays before Perry passed the ball to Luke Dover, who ran along the right sideline for a 65-yard score. A two-point conversion pass from Perry to Chris Knight made it 24-16 at 1:40.
Again, the Stars had a fast answer with a three-play drive that was capped with Jackson zigzagging across the field and scoring on a 53-yard run.
The Seymour fans, players and coaches became fired up when Dover ran 17 yards for a touchdown with 9:58 to go. On a two-point conversion run attempt, Morris reached the end zone before the ball was knocked loose, but Nikolas Richert recovered to pull the Owls within 31-24.
Owls fans became even louder on the next drive when Knight intercepted one of Brayden Tidd’s passes near midfield 48 minutes later. But shortly after, they were forced to punt.
BNL then ran the ball 12 times and completed one pass in a seven-minute span, and Flores missed a 35-yard field goal with just under two minutes remaining in the game.
With no timeouts and starting at their own 20-yard line, Seymour missed on four pass attempts, and BNL secured the win.
“We just felt like offensively, in the first half, we couldn’t get in a rhythm. Second half was great. Second half, offensively, we got in rhythm,” Shattuck said.
On the night for the Owls (0-5, 0-4 HHC), Zach Carpenter had 12 rushes for 45 yards, and Perry went 80 yards on nine carries. Through the air, Perry was 16 for 34 with 204 yards, a pair of touchdowns and one interception. Dover caught five of those passes for a game-high 133 yards.
McCullough led the Stars (2-3, 2-1 HHC) in rushing with 85 yards on 18 carries. Tidd was 17 for 27 passing with 233 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Roberts led with 91 yards receiving.
Seymour now turns its attention to next Friday’s Jackson Bowl home game against county rival Brownstown Central.
“We’ll get better. I’ll get back to the drawing board, and we’re going to have a good game plan ready for Brownstown,” Shattuck said.