|Fri, Dec 06, 2013 09:13 AM
|Issue of November 27, 2013
September 11, 2013 | 09:34 AM
In a Mid-Southern Conference tilt, the North Harrison Cougars football team again played right with their opponent for a half before being handled in the second half in a 22-6 loss at Salem.
The Cougars were the first team to get on the board with an Austin Nevil touchdown plunge in the second quarter. The momentum quickly shifted back to the Lions on the ensuing kick-off, when Jack Phelps attempted either an onside kick or some sort of failed bloop kick that went only 10 yards and right into the hands of a Salem up man. Aided by a questionable helmet-to-helmet penalty on the Cougars, Salem went on to score with an Andrew Maudlin run on fourth-and-one from inside the Cougars' 5-yard line with just 2:49 remaining in the half. Salem then forced an offsides penalty on the Cougars' defensive line on the extra-point attempt, causing North Harrison coach Mark Williamson to tell anyone who would listen that his players specifically worked on that play all week but still jumped offsides. Salem's Collin Badger took advantage of the penalty to score the two-point conversion attempt.
Salem would get the ball back one more time in the first half after a Brandon Craig fumble, but the Cougars defense held strong, forcing a three-and-out, leaving the halftime score at 8-6, in favor of the home team.
The third quarter saw what appeared to be two different teams from those that played in the first half. Salem came out and ripped up the Cougars defense on the ground, left, right and up the middle. North Harrison couldn't get a stop it needed, and, with 4:42 left in the quarter, Salem had taken control of the game with two scores 22-6, which would be the final tally.
North Harrison did have a couple of chances to make it interesting. The Cougars, mainly through the air, ventured into Lions territory after a couple of completions from Phelps to senior wide-out Joseph Hinton. The duo just missed on a couple more completion attempts that would have advanced the Cougars near the goal line.
"If we could have connected on one of those, we could have scored," Hinton said. "It was close."
Phelps said he was hit on the arm on one of the throws that ended up behind Hinton.
The Cougars defense and punter Nathan Wayman did their jobs to get the ball back to the offense for another shot at the end zone, but a Phelps' interception in the end zone with 8:26 to go sealed the Cougars' fate.
Running back Tyler Jones did the bulk of the work on the drive to get the Cougars in scoring position.
While Phelps completed passes throughout the game to Gary Blakenship, Brandon Stokes and Hinton for a total of 53 yards, Salem did not complete a pass all game (the Lions only tried one), but, as the final score indicates, it didn't have to. The Lions gained 225 yards on 50 carries.
The win improved Salem to 2-0 in the Mid-Southern Conference, 2-1 overall, in head coach R.J. Hartsfield's first season. The Lions will travel Friday night to perennial conference power Brownstown.
North Harrison drops to 0-2 in the conference, 1-2 overall, with two difficult home games coming up in Charlestown and Brownstown.