For the first two games of the 2019 season at least, Milan Indians’ quarterback Parker Lewis indeed can’t lose.
Spearheading a potent offensive attack and throwing for 287 yards, the senior led visiting Milan to a 35-14 gridiron win at Batesville’s Dawg Pound Friday night.
The Indians have now won two of the last three Victory Bell games between the Ripley County rivals.
“Our guys fought hard throughout, but there were a couple bad breaks here and there for us and a couple good plays by them,” said BHS head coach Evan Ulery after the loss. “I thought their guys made more plays than ours and we were out-coached as well. We have to move on from this and get better.”
A 13-7 game at halftime, Milan took over on downs at its own 20-yard-line after a delay of game backed the Dogs out of a potential field goal attempt.
Despite moving backwards on a holding penalty and offensive pass interference, the Tribe rallied on a 24-yard pass to tight end Matt Schmitt and a 53-yard pass play to Carsyn Ascherman which the junior nearly converted into a score. Two plays and a timeout later, Lewis and Adam Norman hooked up for a 5-yard touchdown with 3:23 left in the third period. The point-after by Ethan Kaulig made it 20-7.
After trading punts, the Bulldogs started a drive from their own 8 just seconds before the third quarter expired. Upon switching ends, junior tailback Austin Pohlman reeled off first-down runs of 26 and 11 yards into Milan territory.
But, on 3rd-and-11, sophomore quarterback Travis Lecher mishandled a snap and potential handoff to a sweeping Jake Cruse; defensive end Logan Nudds scooped up the loose ball and rumbled for a 40-yard score. Milan faked the extra point, with Lewis passing to Norman for a 28-7 lead.
“You just can’t make the kind of mistakes we did tonight and expect to put yourselves in a position to beat a good football team like Milan,” said Ulery.
The Bulldogs responded with their best drive of the game, a 16-yard pass to junior Trey Peters starting things. On 4th-and-8, Lecher threw across his body to senior Brayden Linkel for a 13-yard pickup. The sweep to Cruse started clicking for the hosts, as the senior went for 16 yards before a 15-yard rush (and Braiden Foster kick) cut the deficit back to two scores at 28-14 with 8 minutes left.
Senior JT Linkel recovered the ensuing onside kick. However, Batesville produced two consecutive three-and-outs with the final one setting Milan up at the BHS 13. With 3:39 left, Lewis faded one to Ascherman for the 21-point final margin.
“I thought our defense played a lot better (than week 1) and gave us a chance,” Ulery offered. “Offensively, we didn’t live up to our expectations and took some steps back.
“At times, I thought Austin made good cutbacks and had good vision,” he went on, “but the offensive line didn’t sustain blocks very well and Travis struggled at times with his reads. Their ‘green’ showed up at times tonight.”
The Dogs started the night with a three-and-out, leaving Milan with just 45 yards to traverse. Mostly using junior back Peyton Cavins, the Indians soon had 1st-and-goal. Two of the next three plays were losses, setting up 4th-and-goal from the 12. Head coach Ryan Langferman called timeout to set up a perfect scoring pass to Norman on the left side.
Another BHS three-and-out put the Milan offense back on the field. A 32-yard completion to Ascherman had the Indians in the red zone. Lewis passed to Peyton Wert for 12 yards, then snuck in from a yard out to make it 13-0.
A big return by senior Isaiah Riffle gave the Dogs good field position, though a holding penalty led to another punt.
After a Milan punt, BHS answered with a 74-yard, 8-play scoring drive. Lecher scrambled for 23 yards and Pohlman gained 51 yards on seven carries, including a 3-yard score.
Pohlman then kept MHS from padding its lead, picking off Lewis in the end zone one play after a 53-yard strike to Norman.
Pohlman was just shy of a 100-yard night rushing. Lecher was stymied to the tune of a 6-of-19 outing and 43 passing yards. Ascherman went for 142 yards receiving and Norman for 114.
“The nice thing is, this doesn’t impact our ability to be where we need to be at the end of the year,” said Ulery. “We’ll take the good things we saw and learn from the bad.”
Batesville (1-1) will play South Dearborn at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, on Sept. 7. Game time is 5:20 p.m.