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North Harrison’s Dalton Fessel (top right) and Taran Rennirt haul down Clarksville quarterback Aidan McEwen in the second half. Wade Bell (click for larger version)

Turnovers doom Cougars


October 10, 2012 | 10:30 AM

As the temperature dropped due to a north wind, the turnover rate against the North Harrison Cougars football team climbed Friday night at Clarksville. The Generals took advantage of each opportunity the Cougars gave them, blanking North Harrison 34-0 for a Mid-Southern Conference win.

"It's our mentality, the lack of physical body strength from the lack of a strength training program," North Harrison coach Mark Williamson said. "That just takes a little bit of time."

North Harrison won the coin toss but had to give up the ball after just four plays.

Brandon Hardin returned the Cougars' punt to the North Harrison 44-yard line. Despite two illegal procedure penalties that pushed into a first-and-20 situation, the Generals pushed the ball down field for a touchdown, as Aidan McEwen hit Hardin for an 8-yard pass and, following a failed extra-point kick attempt, a 6-0 lead.

North Harrison went four-and-out on its second possession and wouldn't reach midfield until late in the period.

Clarksville blocked the Cougars' punt and put its offense in good field position, on the 39-yard line. It took only one play to score as McEwen kept the ball. McEwen also got the two-point conversion for a 14-0 lead.

Things went from bad to worse for the Cougars on their next possession. After two plays, Clarksville junior Marquise Parrish intercepted a Jake Phelps' pass and returned it to the North Harrison 34-yard line. Five plays later, Clarksville scored again. Following another failed kick attempt, the Generals had a 20-0 lead.

"We're having a hard time getting ready to play football games," Williamson said. "We seem to have the mentality that it's a country club sport, and this isn't a country club sport. But that takes time."

North Harrison looked to have a better possession the next time it had the ball. The Cougars worked to the Clarksville 15-yard yard line but lost a yard on their next play. The drive ended, however, as Hardin intercepted Phelps' pass to Mason Miller, who was in the end zone. Hardin caught the ball on the 5-yard line, where he was immediately brought down.

Clarksville ran six plays, advancing to the 24-yard line. Nate Knight then broke free for the biggest play of the night, going 76 yards into the end zone. Jake Matthews nailed the extra-point kick, and the Generals had a 27-0 advantage.

The Generals scored again late in the period as McEwen hit Hardin for 33 yards. Following the kick, Clarksville ha a 34-0 halftime lead.

"They've got some athletes that are tough to deal with," Williamson said. "They're tough for anybody in the conference to deal with. They've gotten better as the season went on. They might make a run in the sectional."

The rain that was expected moved in midway through the third quarter but stayed around only for a brief period.

North Harrison was moving the ball during that time, with Tyler Jones getting to the 1-yard line as the third period ended. A fourth-down attempt to get into the end zone failed, and Clarksville took possession.

Neither team scored in the fourth period as the Generals got the conference win.

"I thought the second half we played a little better, defensively and offensively," Williamson said. "The teams in this league are pretty decent teams. This year the conference is up from what I saw last year. We're at the bottom of the conference and our standing shows. We're second to last in the conference and that's where we're at."

Williamson said he believes his team may have peaked early then had a run of bad luck that took away that momentum and the gains it had made.

"I think we hit our peak around week six, and the injuries have kind of deflated us a little bit," he said. "When you look at film and see what they're learning, we're kind of seeing the same mistakes over and over. Maybe we need to change the way we're teaching or we've got to go with other folks. But, when you look behind you, you don't have a lot of folks."

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