By MATTHEW PEASLEE
For The Intelligencer
RICHMOND - In order for the Indian Creek football team to move forward, it had to look back.
"We looked at last week and said we're better than we played," Redskins coach Andrew Connor said, referring to a 49-28 loss to Harrison Central. "We're not going to end on that note."
Indian Creek rebounded with a 36-22 victory against rival Edison, then rejoiced by retaining the Travelers Trophy in the annual Route 43 Bowl.
"It's a good bounce-back game for us," Connor said. "The kids were very disappointed after last week. It means a lot for us to keep the trophy and the kids practiced well this week in preparation for this big game.
"All you can ask your kids is to play is four quarters and we definitely got that out of them."
The first two drives of the game, though, were a struggle.
The Redskins (6-4) got the ball first and drove inside the red zone on nine plays before quarterback Jonathan Woodbury fumbled during a 12-yard run. Edison's Hunter Sweat recovered it.
The defensive play set up an 11-play, 82-yard drive, ending with a Nolan Marcus pass to Josh Pasek for a 5-yard touchdown with 6:43 left in the first quarter.
"We came out very strong," Wildcats coach Derrick Stickles said. "Everybody was fired up."
The long Edison drive was aided by three Redskins penalties - two personal fouls and a roughing the passer.
A holding penalty negated a 22-yard run by Blake Roar on Indian Creek's ensuing possession, but the offense buckled down and moved down the field, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by Tyler Lathem.
Lathem is one of 14 senior football players.
"The one thing that I'm most proud of is our seniors for battling so hard," Connor said. "They battled so hard all year and they deserved to go out with a win."
The Redskins forced Edison (5-5) to three-and-outs on its remaining drives before halftime. In between, Roar scored on a 12-yard touchdown at the start of the second quarter and Lee Utt kick a 22-yard field with 2:18 remaining. The kick, Indian Creek's first field goal of the season, put the Redskins up 17-7 at halftime.
"That was very important for us," Connor said. "We executed in all phases of the game. Our offense did what they had to do, our defense stepped up and special teams even came through when they had to."
On the first drive of the second half, Edison turned it over on downs after a Marcus pass was incomplete. Indian Creek responded with a seven-play drive that ended with a Roar 15-yard touchdown.
Marcus then threw for his second touchdown pass, a 33-yard strike to Devan Tennant with 4:33 left in the third quarter bringing the score to 24-15.
"The tide was turning," Stickles said.
The Wildcats continued to ride the wave when Pasek recovered a Woodbury fumble on the Edison 21. On the fist play, sophomore Zach Cole picked off Marcus and ran in for a score.
"You have a turnover, then you come back out and get a turnover for a touchdown, you can't ask for anything better than that," Connor said. "The defense made some big plays."
The unit sacked Marcus three times and broke up many passes as the Edison quarterback finished 12 of 21 for 166 yards. The Redskins limited the Wildcats to 58 rushing yards on 24 attempts.
The ground attack was Indian Creek's game plan in the second half as Woodbury only threw once - a 3-yard completion to Lathem. Woodbury led with 216 yards on 21 carries. Roar had 91 yards on 15 attempts and Lathem finished with 68 yards on 12 carries. The Redskins ran 57 times for 417 yards.
After Cole's interception return, Edison clawed back, bringing the score to 30-22 after a 33-yard scoring pass from Marcus to Pasek and an extra point by Marcus.
"He did a great job with everything," Stickles said of his senior quarterback. "To watch him grow, it's been incredible. He grew from a boy into a man. "Now he's ready to take on the world once he gets out of high school."
A six-minute, 20 second drive by Indian Creek, ended by a Woodbury 6-yard touchdown run Woodbury, stopped Edison's hope for a comeback and closed the scoring.
Rich Springer the the Wildcats receiving unit with five catches for 46 yards, while Ethan Shannon racked up 40 yards on the ground on six carries.