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NH trips WW behind Fessel’s 234-yard night

It was a contest full of firsts for North Harrison Friday night: it was the first game, first win, first opening-game win in four years, and the first win over West Washington in a decade as the Cougars dismantled the host Senators, 28-16.
Senior running back Gary Fessel romped for 234 yards, including 145 in the second half, and scored 20 of his team’s 28 points with three touchdowns and a two-point conversion.
Matt Jones added the other six points with a 26-yard gallop and 51 total yards for the game, and fullback Colt Becht carried four times for 26 yards.
“The team was pumped after the game,” North Harrison coach Dan Haskell said. “I think winning the first opener in four years has set the tone mentally. After watching tape of last year’s game, we made less mistakes and had fewer missed tackles.
“These guys were better prepared to play the opener this year.”
North opens its home schedule Friday night at 8 against host No. 4-ranked (Class A) Perry Central.
“(Versus West Washington) the team had the attitude that they refuse to lose,” Haskell said. “We need to come out with more intensity like that against Perry Central and the rest of the season.”
The two teams played scoreless ball in the first quarter, but in the second, Fessel scored on a 16-yard run. The Senators answered as Uriah Haub scored on a 54-yard pass from Josh Robinson for a touchdown. On the PAT, the Senators ran a tailback sweep to the left, and Haub ran in to give the host club an 8-6 advantage at the half.
On the third play of the third quarter, North’s Lance Mitchell, a sophomore, recovered a West Washington fumble on the 49-yard line. Eight plays later, Fessel scored from the five and added the two-point conversion.
Then came what Haskell called the turning points of the game: With 1:35 left in the third, North’s defense stopped the Senators inside the one. The Cougars’ offense took over and marched 99 yards in 11 plays, helped out by the offensive line on a 27-yard touchdown run by senior fullback Matt Jones on fourth-and-inches.
For good measure, Fessel capped a 49-yard drive with another score with 4:14 left.
The Senators’ last gasp came at 1:07 on a 27-yard pass to Haub from Morgan Conrad. Ronnie Ragains scored the PAT for the final score.
“Our blocking on the offensive line was vastly improved over last season,” Haskell said. “Offensive line play has been one of our points of concentration in the off-season and preseason. Our two new senior fullbacks (Becht and Jones) did a great job of run blocking and carrying the ball. We still need to work on our passing game.
“Defensively, our line performed well, as did our linebackers. The two scores came in the passing game. Overall, I was pleased, but we still have improvements to make.”
Fessel recorded 10 tackles and a caused fumble; Becht and Clinton Smith had nine tackles each; Jones had six, including a caused fumble, and Brad Atkins and James Thompson both had five tackles. Becht, Adkins, Duane Haas and Jeremy Schultz all had sacks. Haas kicked a pair of extra points on special teams.