ST. JOHN | The final score was 35-21 Lake Central over Valparaiso.
But the real number worth remembering was 5:31, as in 5 minutes and 31 seconds remaining in the game.
That’s when the Indians’ season might have taken a turn for the worse. As in the worst possible time – the week before the sectional.
Star running back/quarterback David Yancey was tackled hard on 25-yard run at the Valpo 9-yard line. He didn’t get up without help. And for the remaining minutes, he sat alone on the LC bench with a heavy bag of ice on his left leg, just below the knee. Family and friends stood behind him by the fence trying to keep up his spirits.
“I don't know how bad it is. He said he will be fine, but I don't know,” LC coach Brett St. Germain said.
Yancey, who rushed for a game-high 171 yards and 3 TDs – including his 20th of the season late in the third quarter – was carted off the field after all the handshakes and high-fives were over.
The good news for the Times No. 2 Indians (7-2, 5-2) is that they rallied without their star QB, with Alec Olund helping secure the win on the final drive, and senior fullback Riley Arvanitis rushing for 109 yards and two TDs.
“I knew we had to punch it in. I thought everybody came together and said, ‘We’ve got to get this done,’” said Arvanitis, who only had 15 yards rushing at the break. “I tried to be more patient with my runs. In the second half, I let my guys do what they do best – get to their blocks and let the holes open up.”
Leading 28-21, the Indians went on a 7-play, 44-yard drive – all on the ground – to eat up clock and take a commanding 35-21 lead with 1:33 remaining.
“We play best when we get that fired-up mentality,” St. Germain said. “It was nice to see our kids come together. That feels good as a coach when that happens.
“I was proud of them because I was hard on them in practice (after last week's loss to Merrillville). They were hanging their heads a little bit. It was nice to see them respond like that.”
In the first half, the two teams combined for 21 points. In less than five minutes of the third quarter, they matched that score. After Yancey ran for a 39-yard TD with 7:54 left in the third, Valpo's Stephen Simms took the kickoff 90 yards – with some nifty balance – to tie the game at 21. Brody Crossin added a 23-yard interception return for a TD for the Vikes (3-6, 3-4).