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Late interception sinks Rockets

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Shelby fall, 28-6, at Madison Central

By Todd Martin

The SCHS football team came up short again, falling, 28-6, at Madison Central Friday in a District 8 showdown.

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Trailing 21-6, the Rockets (0-8, 0-3) had a chance to pull within one score of the Indians (7-1, 2-1) early in the fourth quarter. Shelby had moved the ball to the Madison Central 30-yard line, but Madison Central’s third interception of the game ended the drive. The Indians then went 78 yards for the final score.

“Defensively, again, we played well,” SCHS Coach Todd Shipley said. “Really, outside the Eastern game, we’ve played well on defense all year. We just had too many turnovers.”

The Rockets turned the ball over five times – three interceptions, a fumble and a turnover on downs after a muffed punt attempt – and Madison Central turned those miscues into 21 points.

“You just can’t turn the ball over that many times,” Shipley said. “That’s even how we scored. Turnovers almost always come back to get you.”

Tavis Elzy got the Rockets’ on the board after he intercepted a pass just short of midfield. Elzy returned the ball to the Indians’ 25-yard line, setting up his 20-yard TD reception from quarterback Matt Page with a little more than two minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Rockets missed the extra point, and trailed, 21-6, going into the fourth.

Outside Madison Central’s opening drive, the Rocket defense held strong throughout much of the game. After two interceptions in the first half, Madison Central had the ball inside the Rockets’ 30-yard line. The defense stuffed the Indians the first time, early in the second quarter, but Madison Central converted on the second one.

The Indians then took a 21-0 lead into the half after scoring on another short-field drive after a dropped snap on a punt gave them the ball on the Rockets’ 45-yard line.

Shelby's defense stifled Madison Central in the second half, until the Indians scored off the interception in the fourth.

“We were in position to have a chance to win,” Shipley said. “Offensively we moved the ball consistently, but then we threw an interception. That’s the way we’ve been recently.”

Page and running back Ty Barnett combined to lead the Rockets with 91 yards rushing, and Page completed 12 of 1 passes for 107 passing yards and a touchdown. Elzy led the Rocket receivers with four catches for 52 yards.

“We eliminate those three [intercepted] passes and our punting mistakes, and it’s a very close game. The two punts hurt because we’re thinking field position,” Shipley said. “We thought we had them backed up, and we’re thinking: ‘OK, let’s play some tough defense and get the ball back.’ Then we give them a short-field and that’s tough for the defense.”

Two return from injury

The Rockets got a boost with the return of receiver Ben Axline, collarbone, and defensive back Darian Dugle, hand. Axline had two catches for 7 yards, and Dugle had one tackle. Both players help the team with depth, and Shipley said he’s excited to have both back.

“Axline was one of our top receivers coming into the season, and we thought Dugle would start,” the coach said. “We were also going to use [Dugle] on offense at fullback/tailback. Now we just have to try to work him in.”