Bulldogs avenge early season loss to Pirates with 23-14 Sectional Semifinal win at Crown Point

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith



CP lineman Andrew Keneson (76) does his all to help out CP tight end Ben Fridrich (85) against Merrillville linebacker Dennis Winston (89) in first half action. (All photos by Mark Smith.)
CP's offense celebrates after Tyler Gomez (42) scores his first quarter TD to tie the 6A Sectional 1 semifinal game.
Merrillville's Justin Rhodes (5) heads for the end zone for one of his two TDs at Crown Point.
CP quarterback Ryan Bolda (19) looks past Merrillville's Anthony Swims (22) on a second quarter pass play.
Anthony Swims (22) and Devon Davis (34) conspire to keep Crown Point's Mark Knox (2) out of the end zone early in the 6A Sectional 1 quarterfinals.
Tim Angel (5) and Eric Mahaffey (21) talk strategy against the arch-rival Pirates in the sectional semifinals.
If all high school games weren't played on the same night, players from other schools would attend many other games. Despite the super-cold, Hobart boys watch the Merrillville-Crown Point playoff game.
CP students did not neglect to dress up for Halloween at the sectional semifinal playoff game.
CP's Ben Fridrich (85) gets a block on Merrillville's Tyler Henderson (9) to the benefit of CP's Tim Angel (21) in second quarter action.
After the game, it's not too cold for CP's Ben Fridrich to be interviewed on the field on CP-TV. (All photos by Mark Smith.)

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Revised: December 10, 2017 .

Team 1 2 3 4 F
MERRILLVILLE (1-9) 7 0 0 7 14
CROWN POINT (6-4) 0 14 3 6 23

Friday, October 27, 2017 -  39 degrees at kickoff - IHSAA Class 6A Sectional Semifinal at CROWN POINT, Ind.

1st QtrMERRILLVILLE (7-0) Justin Rhodes, 5-yard run. 65-yard drive 13 plays. Meagan Wise kick. 1:16 left.
2nd Qtr
CROWN POINT (7-7) Tyler Gomez, 18-yard run. 65-yard drive, 14 plays. Ben Fridrich kick. 6:59.
CROWN POINT (14-7) Tyler Gomez, 1-yard run. 1-yard drive, 1 play after Vincent Smith ran an interception 30 yards back to the Merrillville 1-yardline. Ben Fridrich kick. 1:42 left.
3rd QtrCROWN POINT (17-7) Ben Fridrich, 31-yard field goal. 66-yard drive, 7 plays. 5:36 left.
4th QtrMERRILLVILLE (14-17) Justin Rhodes, 14-yard run. One play after Tyler Henderson recovered a fumble at the CP 14-yard-line. Meagan Wise kick. 11:33 left.
CROWN POINT (23-14) Tyler Jones, 29-yard pass for Ryan Bolda. 43 yard drive, 3 plays after a fumbled punt. Kick wide. 8:12 left.


MERRILLVILLE (25 carries, 57 yards, 2 TD, 0 fumble): Justin Rhodes (RB) 14 carries, 55 yards, 2 TDs; Cam Wright (QB) 10 carries, 0 yards (2 sacks minus-8) Armani Glass (WR) 1-11 yards.

CROWN POINT (42 carries, 209 yards, 2 TDs, 0 fumbles):
Tyler Gomez (HB) 35 carries, 160 yards, 2 TDs; Scott Mills (HB) 3-13 yards; Ryan Bolda (QB) 3-13 yards; James Priddy (P) 1-23 yards.

MERRILLVILLE: Cam Wright (QB) 10-for-22, 113 yards, 0 TDs, 2 interceptions;
CROWN POINT: Ryan Bolda (QB) 4 of 10, 54 yards, 1 TD, 0 interceptions.

MERRILLVILLE: Xavier Griffin (WR) 2-46 yards; Tyjohn Lockett (WR) 3-30 yards; Jeremiah Howard (WR) 2-27 yards; Aahric Whitehead (WR) 1-7 yards;
CROWN POINT: Ben Fridrich (TE) 1-0 yards; Ben Schoettle (R) 2-39 yards; Tyler Jones (WR) 2-48 yards, TD; Tim Angel (WR) 1-6.

MERRILLVILLE (0) Selah Brooks;
CROWN POINT (2) Vince Smith, Sam Krutz.


MERRILLVILLE (0) Tyler Henderson.
CROWN POINT (1) Railaun Cosey (DB).

MERRILLVILLE: 172 yards, 10 first downs, 3 turnovers;
CROWN POINT: 263 yards, 12 first downs, 1 turnover.


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CROWN POINT (10-27-2017) Crown Point carries just a 6-4 record into the Class 6A Sectional championship game at Portage (5-5) next Friday but it's already been quite a season, especially at home.

From the upset of then-undefeated Valparaiso, to the roller coaster win over defending Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) champ Valparaiso to last Friday, when CP fell behind arch-rival Merrillville for the second time this fall, 7-0 in the first quarter.

But on a wind-chilled night that only the players could enjoy, Crown Point's Bulldogs became 'November men' one more time with a 23-14 win over the Pirates.

CP entered the final month of the high school football season with a chance to win just the school's sixth sectional championship, but the win was more 'feel good' than it was advancing over a team they were supposed to beat.

Senior halfback Tyler Gomez ran for another another couple of touchdowns before the home crowd. Senior punter James Priddy 'busted loose' on a fake punt for 23 yards.

Defensive end Vince Smith grabbed an interception off Merrillville quarterback Cam Wright and nearly scored. The referees ruled he was bumped out at the 1-yard-line.

Senior kicker Ben Fridrich tried a school-record 52-yard field goal and, though it came up short, everybody seemed to feel the fun of the effort. And senior QB Ryan Bolda threw a perfect 29-yard TD pass to Tyler Jones in the fourth quarter to clinch the game.

CP was all smiles afterwards.

"When you get in the playoffs it's a whole new season," said CP coach Kevin Enright after the game. We didn't approach it like 'Merrillville's having a down year.' Or 'Merrillville beat us before.'"

"It's always a dogfight between us. Crown Point-Merrillville. We're pleased."

The big play was when Smith, on the pas rush, grabbed a low throw and rambled toward the end zone. It appeared as if he got in, but the referees said he didn't quite make it. Gomez scored on the next play to break a 7-7 tie in the final two minutes of the first half.

"I was in,' Smith said later. "I thought I was in. He hit me right in the chest. I've never scored a TD. I played tight end on the JV and I had some two-point conversions."

Smith recognized that his team, which was once 2-3 after five game, just stayed with the everyday routine each week and now they're one game from the sectional championship.

"It's just a process," he said. "It's all a process. We just keep trying to play better every day and I think we have."

There were less than 1,000 people combined in the stands for the Crown Point-Merrillville playoff game.

There was a reason. The wind-chill readings bottomed out at a sub-freezing 31 degrees, exactly 50 degrees colder than September 29 when the Bulldogs beat Valparaiso.

Ben Fridrich says he was surprised when coach Kevin Enright told him to attempt the 52-yard field goal.

"I said, we're kicking? Me? Sometimes he questions us kicking 40-yard field goals. But I said 'Sure, I'll try it.'"
Enright said, "He can
make that. In practice, I'm telling him. Why are you practicing that? I'm never going to call for it in a game. But he can make that. He almost made it . Maybe two yards short."

Coach: Kevin Enright, 36-29 in 6th year at school
Aug. 18 at Lowell {4A}   L 13-27   
Aug. 25 Highland {4A}  W 35-  6   
Sep. 1 Merrillville {6A}   L 26-34   
Sep. 8 at Lake Central {6A}  W 45-  0   
Sep. 15 at Portage {6A}   L 10-27   
Sep. 22 Valparaiso {6A}  W 21-  6   
Sep. 29 LaPorte {5A}  W 37-35   
Oct. 6 at Chesterton {6A}  W 21-  7   
Oct. 13 Michigan City {5A}   L 15-17   
Oct. 27 Merrillville {6A}  W 23-14  sectional
Nov. 3 at Portage {6A}  W 14-  7  sectional
Nov. 10 Penn {6A} 6:30 pm  regional