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Mohawks skin NH in Big Cat-nap, 40-0

In 1999, North Harrison defeated Corydon Central, 27-0, in the annual Big Cat Classic. The Cougars scored all the points it would need to win just 11 seconds in the game thanks to a long run by Gary Fessel.
On Friday night, the host Panthers — many of whom sported freshly cut and wildly dyed Mohawks — returned the favor.
After North went three and out in the game’s opening possession, Corydon’s Corey Thatcher took a handoff from Justin McPherson and raced around left tackle for a 77-yard jaunt to the end zone. McPherson added the extra-point kick to start the scoring in the Panthers’ 40-0 rout.
The shutout was the fourth in a row by Corydon, which matches the best streak in program history. The clan from 1973 was also known for its stingy defense and recorded seven shutouts on the season (including four in a row), giving up only 14 points all year.
The 40-point margin of victory was the largest in the quarter-century history of the Big Cats series. Corydon was whitewashed, 46-6, in the 1999 sectional opener to tie the largest margin overall.
In addition to preserving the “doughnut,” Corydon (7-1, 3-1 Mid-Southern Conference) held North Harrison to negative-13 yards of offense, including minus-16 yards rushing, and kept the Cougars (0-8, 0-4 M.S.C.) from gaining an offensive first down. North did have one first down in the game, but it came on a first-quarter penalty on Corydon.
While the defense earned kudos from Corydon coach Darin Ward, the offense actually left a bit to be desired, he said.
“When you are playing your rival, guys sometimes get overexcited about everything and don’t execute like they would in against another team. Throw in the field being in the shape it was, and everything, too,” Ward said. “I mean, I felt like we controlled the entire game, so that wasn’t in question, but I feel like we could have and should have been able to do more.”
The field resembled a well-worn cow pasture (complete with stinch) thanks to an all-day rain on Thursday. The muddy conditions didn’t slow the rushing attack of the Panthers, however.
Thatcher, who went one step further with his do by dying his blonde locks black, rushed for 159 yards on 18 carries and scored three touchdowns with a two-point conversion to lead the winners. Teammate Jon Windell rushed 81 yards.
The Panthers will wrap up the regular season this Friday night at Charlestown (2-6, 2-2 M.S.C.) in a 7:30 start. A win will solidify a runner-up finish in the conference race and also give the team the most wins in a season since football was started at CCHS in 1964.
“(Charlestown’s) a tough football team. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind if we got behind early against Charlestown to see how our defense reacts,” Ward said. “You have to remember that other than Brownstown, we haven’t been down in a football game. They have a decent football team over there, and they can put some points up on the board. It’ll be a good test for our defense.”
Corydon is ranked No. 12 in the latest Indiana Football Coaches Association poll and is on the brink of cracking the Top 10 in the Association Press poll at 11th in 3A.
North Harrison also hits the road as it battles Salem (6-2, 2-2 M.S.C.) in an 8 p.m. matchup.
After Thatcher’s first strike, Corydon struck again with 2:48 left in the first when McPherson tossed the ball to Aaron Dougherty on the right side for an 8-yard score and a 13-0 lead.
In the second period, Thatcher took the ball in from one yard out and added the two-point run to make it 21-0. The Panthers hit paydirt again with 2:38 left in the half on a short run up the middle by Zac Robson to set the score at 27-0 at the intermission.
Corydon capped the scoring in the third quarter on another Thatcher touch from one yard out, and Robson took the ball in from eight yards.
Cougars coach Dan Haskell said his team was as hyped coming into the game as they had been all year. Unfortunately for the squad, Corydon’s TD on its second play from scrimmage snuffed out North’s flame.
“In execution there’s a whole lot of difference during the week. I think most of it is a mental thing. I don’t know what else it could be quite honestly. They do their assignments in practice and yet when we get out here we’re not executing, we’re not thinking. I wish I knew what it was,” Haskell said. “Corydon came in tonight with the emotion behind them that we don’t have because of their winning season. They’re playing hard. I didn’t see us playing that type of ball game and I haven’t see us play that tempo yet. I just hope and pray I see it real quickly on Friday night because I know it gets frustrating for the kids.
“We’ve tried all kind of different things and when something looks like it’s working, well, you can blame it on a lot of things. You can blame it on the calls that didn’t go our way, a sloppy field, but when it comes right down to it, both teams play with the officials and both play on the same field.”
Defensively, captain Kay Brose led North with three tackles while Tony Frederick and Cory Beckman had two take-downs apiece. Jason Ayres and Josh Jones, another captain, both recovered fumbles and Lance Mitchell had one interception.
For the Panthers, Jon Windell had four tackles and Dougherty, Justin Albin, and Justin Lynton all had three. Eric Haub carded a pair of tackles with a sack and a fumble recovery while Michael Emily had a blocked punt, an interception and a tackle. Jason Ward also had a fumble recovery.
With a couple of scouts from Rushville in the house, Ward said that he wasn’t worried about showing his hand too early for the postseason.
“We scored on the second play and we didn’t get a lot of snaps after that to work on much,” Ward said. “We have a bunch of plays that we’d like to work on in a game, but the field has been so bad when it comes to trying to throw a ball that we can’t get them worked in. And this field isn’t going to dry out for quite a while, so I guess we better get used to these conditions.”