ST. LEON, Ind. -- Garren Messmore was on the sideline early in the fourth quarter with a few cramps after a jet sweep play.
But East Central football coach Justin Roden walked over to him, looked into his eyes and told the senior running back he needed him to keep the offense going by gaining first downs.
Messmore responded, and in a true homecoming spirit, the Trojans took advantage on the opening night of the season.
Messmore, an Elder transfer, scored two touchdowns, including a 29-yard run with 2:14 left in the fourth quarter to help lift East Central past visiting Campbell County 21-7.
“This is home,” Messmore told WCPO.com. “This is where I grew up.”
Messmore’s instant impact produced 17 carries over 88 yards for the Trojans (1-0). At the same time, he sparked the Trojans’ offense when it only had 21 total yards in the first half.
“It was phenomenal,” he said. “It’s good to be home. Just playing with my brothers again – the team stepped down when it needed to.”
He attended Elder through the 11th grade, but it was a sweet return home Friday night. His girlfriend attends East Central. Starting right guard Dylan Messmore is Garren’s cousin.
“For him, he had a great experience at Elder,” Roden told WCPO.com Friday night. “He never said a negative word about it. But for him I think it was an opportunity to come back home and play with the same kids he grew up with one last time.”
With the game tied at seven in the second quarter, Garren Messmore electrified the crowd with a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown at the 8:10 mark to help give the Trojans a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“He’s really well coached,” Roden said. “His routes, his cuts -- he does everything really efficiently.
Messmore made plays that weren’t necessarily there, Roden said. But his effort impressed his coach.
“He has a good attitude,” Roden said. “He is not coming over here trying to be a loud vocal leader. He is trying to fit in.”
Those big plays were what East Central needed Friday night. Senior defensive back Dillon Watkins took home MVP honors with two interceptions including a 85-yard touchdown return in the first quarter.
The East Central defense stood tall especially in the fourth quarter when it halted the Camels' drive at midfield on fourth down. Four plays later, Messmore scored his second touchdown.
The Trojans, Indiana’s Class 4A state runner-up last season, next play at Harrison at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 26.
Campbell County junior quarterback Austin Hoeh took home MVP honors for the Camels (0-1), who play host to Highlands at 7 p.m. Aug. 26.