Four first-half turnovers proved costly for Center Grove as Carmel built up a 17-point lead through three quarters and held on for a 20-17 victory in the Class 6-A championship game.
Carmel, coached by John Hebert, was making a state-most 16th appearance in the finals (including five over the last seven seasons) and have now won eight titles.
The Trojans, of coach Eric Moore, marched down the field after the opening kickoff and took a 3-0 lead on an Austin Watson 22-yard field goal. However, the next four CG drives ended in miscues (three fumbles, one interception), while Carmel turned the final two turnovers into points to build a 13-3 lead at halftime.
Zach White then gave the Greyhounds (11-3) a commanding, 20-3 lead with 1:20 left in the third quarter by scoring on a 10-yard run.
Center Grove didn’t fold and rallied behind the passing of quarterback Tayven Jackson. The sophomore completed 11 of 12 passes for 119 yards in the final quarter, firing touchdown passes to Trent Veith (41 yards) and Mason Long (11 yards), which came with 3:24 left to pull the Trojans within three points.
Carmel, however, recovered an onside kick attempt and converted a crucial, third-and-10 from the 50 on a 17-yard Dylan Downing jet sweep run with two minutes left. Downing then converted the next third down with a 9-yard run to allow his team to run out the clock. Downing led all rushers with 102 yards on 11 carries.
The Greyhounds took a 20-14 victory in the regular-season matchup of the two schools. Center Grove (8-6) was seeking to become the sixth school in IHSAA tournament history to win a state title despite a losing (4-5) regular season.
Class 6A State Championship Records
Fewest Passes Completed (Tied): 5 by Carmel.
Most Receptions: 9 by Trent Vieth, Center Grove.
Most Receiving Yards: 138 by Trent Vieth, Center Grove.
Most Interceptions (Tied): 1 by Ty Wise, Carmel.
Center Grove’s Jalen Goines named Eskew Mental Attitude Award recipient
At the conclusion of the state championship game, the IHSAA Executive Committee named Jalen Goines of Center Grove High School as the winner of the Phil N. Eskew Mental Attitude Award in Class 6A Football.
Jalen has received three varsity letters in football and has also received the MIC Scholar Athlete Award all four years at Center Grove.
Jalen carries a 3.918 grade point average and has taken a variety of advanced placement courses. Goines has been the Business Manager for Publications the last three years. He is a two-sport athlete in football and track and field including competing in the Junior Olympics several times for track and field.
Jalen is the son of Monty and Beth Goines of Greenwood, IN. He plans to attend Indiana University to study Neurosurgery.