Titans dismantle Bruins in route to first State appearance

Nick Shelton, Managing Editor & Sports Editor

For the first time in school history, Gibson Southern is finally heading to Lucas Oil Stadium and after winning his 100th career game, earlier this season, head coach Nick Hart is ready to take his team all the way. 

“It’s a really special group, a lot of seniors that have put in a lot of time and effort to get to this level, but we’ve had groups in the past that have done that too,” Hart said. “Sometimes it just takes kind of the right moment and the right time to get there (state) and these guys have put that all together to get to this spot.”

As the Titans football team, followed by two packed “fan buses” left Gibson Southern, fans from around the local community gathered along Coal Mine road and Highway 41 to show their support.

“Leaving, we probably saw 200 fans on Coal Mine road and Highway 41,” senior Drew Foster said. “It just helped show us how many people were backing us in the community.”

With a crowd of a reported 2,870 fans, the Hendricks Regional Health Field was booming as the Titans (12-1) took the field to take on the Tri-West Bruins (11-2) with a spot in the state championship game on the line. 

“Seeing our bleachers completely filled and people jammed all along the fence was surreal,” Foster said. “Their noise and enthusiasm definitely helped get us pumped and ultimately win the semi state game.”

Even with the IHSAA Class 3A Semi-State game being on the road, over three hours away from their home in Fort Branch, the Titans didn’t leave a single seat unfilled as their student section had to move off of the bleachers to make more room for the former alumni, parents, and fans that packed into Lizton Hendricks’ away bleachers. 

The Titans, led by senior quarterback Brady Allen (385 yards &  3 TDs), dominated the Bruins from start to finish. The Titans first drive ended with six, as senior Brayden Malone dove in for the Titans first of many touchdowns. With eleven minutes left in the first quarter, the Titans led, 7-0. 

Gibson Southern quickly forced the Bruins’ offense to give the ball back to the Titans’ Purdue-bound quarterback who quickly gave it up to wide open senior Kaden Hurless. Hurless sprinted across the wide open field and into the endzone to give the Titans’ a quick fourteen point lead. 

The Titans quickly forced another turnover for the Bruins, which ended in a field goal from senior Chris Spear who would go on to score 12 points of his own on a perfect three for three for both field goals and extra points.

After forcing yet another turnover, the Titans would quickly give the ball back to the Bruins as Allen threw an interception to Bruins sophomore Coen Smith. Following the Titans’ turnover, junior Ty Owens threw a touchdown to sophomore Landen Ross to cut the Titans’ lead to ten with the first quarter ending, 17-7. 

The first half would end with two more Titan field goals from Spear, making the score 23-7 as the second quarter came to a close. 

Filled with Titan scores and Bruin turnovers, the second half would look very familiar for those in the stands. Early in the third quarter Allen completed a pass to his top target, Rory Heltsley (211 yards, 1 TD) for another Titan touchdown to increase the Titans’ lead, 30-7. 

Following the theme of the game, the Bruins promptly fumbled, with Titans’ senior Cade Virgin recovering to give possession back to the Titans, who capitalized with a 4th down quarterback sneak from Allen to widen the lead to 30 points.

The Titans, however, were not finished, as senior Noah Bryant would intercept a pass from Owens and return it for a pick six to cap off the third quarter. 

The Titans would rest their starters for the remainder of the game and go on to win with a final score of 44-7. 

“I’m really happy for our guys, they’ve worked really hard to get here and the community supports us so well,” Hart said. “I’m happy for everybody that they get to experience this week and hopefully (get to experience) another win on Friday.”

The Titans will now be heading to Lucas Oil Stadium this Friday to take on the Brebeuf Braves in the Class 3A State Championship game.