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Cougars win ‘ugly’ over Valley, 42-7

‘It was an ugly ball game.’
That was North Harrison football coach Jason Mullis’ feeling Friday night despite the Cougar’s 42-7 win over visiting Springs Valley.
It was North Harrison’s third straight win after losing its first two games.
‘We played to the level of our competition,’ said Mullis, who was hoping for more fire than his team demonstrated. ‘I think we were a lot better than that ball club. We did not come out and play that way. We cannot play that way. I’m very disappointed. Yeah, it’s a victory and we can use a victory, but it was an ugly ball game.’
Valley came into the contest with just one win (against Paoli) after losing its first three games.
The Cougars were without junior linebacker/running back Andrew Johnson, who was out with a torn ACL.
‘It was just everywhere,’ Mullis said of the problems. ‘We just seemed flat and weren’t enthusiastic. We didn’t play around with the football like we usually do. I think Andrew Johnson, sitting out this game with his knee, he’s kind of our emotional leader, and we didn’t have that out there. I just don’t think we came to play.’
The Cougars managed to get points on the board early.
With 6:03 left in the first period, Michael Dean hit Isaac Davis with a 9-yard scoring pass, leading to a 7-0 Cougar advantage.
A few minutes later, the Blackhawks went three and out and punted to Bryan Schroeder, who raced 85 yards for a score. North Harrison missed the extra point, but still had a 13-0 lead.
‘They weren’t very smart kicking it to him,’ Mullis said of the punt to Schroeder.
Springs Valley had a bright moment when it connected on a 32-yard pass on its next possession. However, the Blackhawks then lost four yards and then more on a penalty, eventually losing the ball on downs.
Valley later caught another break when the Cougars fumbled on second down on the North Harrison 41-yard line.
Trevor Hall carried the ball twice, getting to the 17-yard line. Chris Walker took the ball to the eight, then Derek Smith got a first down on the six. North Harrison made two defensive stops, with Valley getting to the three. On fourth-and-goal, Paul Foxx found Trey Parks alone in the corner, and the Blackhawks were on the board, 13-7.
‘We had a couple of blown coverages,’ Mullis said. ‘That’s how they got the first touchdown. We’ve worked on playing man to man. We were mixing it up with zone coverage. We had some mix-ups out there.’
Schroeder returned the ball to the 39-yard line for the Cougars on the following kick-off. Corey Beckman had the next two carries, the second good for a first down.
Zellers got the next three calls, gaining 19, 20 and four yards and taking the ball to the two. Beckman got the call on the next play and got in the end zone for the touchdown. The senior also got the conversion, giving the Cougars a 21-7 lead.
The Cougars broke up two Blackhawk pass plays before halftime, leaving North Harrison with a 14-point advantage at the break.
‘The first half was the worst first we’ve had since I’ve got here,’ said an unhappy Mullis. ‘We came out in the second half and left some guys in just to get things rolling. Even then, we had a fumble. It was not a clean game. I’m just not very pleased. We’ve got a lot of work to do.’
North Harrison added two touchdowns to its total in the third period.
Schroeder had the ball go between his legs on the kick-off and was downed at the five-yard line. However, the Cougars then used Schroeder and Beckman to move the ball down to the Valley 11. Zellers got the next call and was in for the score with 6:45 remaining in the period.
Valley fumbled near midfield on its next possession, turning the ball over to the Cougars again. North Harrison kept the ball on the ground with Zellers scoring again with 41 seconds left to give NH a 35-7 lead.
Chris Rawert kept the Blackhawks scoreless in the period when he broke up a pass from Foxx to Kyle Vanderpan, stopping a sure touchdown.
The final touchdown of the game came with 54 seconds left when Beckman took the ball in from 13 yards out, capping the 42-7 win.
‘I think these kids are confident right now, but they don’t need to be,’ Mullis said. ‘I don’t think we were running the ball as hard as we do. I think our line came out and missed some blocks we didn’t miss the last couple of weeks. The score doesn’t show us having as bad of game as we did, but I think we had an awful game.
‘I’m happy with the win, but we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re into the meat of our schedule right now. This week, we’re going to be working the fundamentals again. We had some missed snaps.’
NH’s Zellers carried the ball nine times for 135 yards. Beckman carried the ball 19 times for 129 yards, and Schroeder totaled 73 yards on nine carries. The Cougars gained 327 rushing yards. Passing the ball, North Harrison gained 56 yards total. The Cougars garnered 383 yards total offense.
‘Brendan ran hard tonight,’ Mullis said. ‘I think they (Valley) were focusing on Beckman and Schroeder. With Zellers, we have three backs and we can hurt you with either one of them. Zellers picked it up tonight and ran the ball extremely hard. All in all we had some kids have a nice game. Geno (Hedgespeth) did a nice job stepping up with Johnson being out. He made some nice tackles for us.’
‘I was pleased our passing game was a little bit more on target,’ Mullis said. ‘That first play, we had the touchdown, but it was called back. We had two or three touchdowns called back. I’m not happy about that. We cannot play that way with our conference coming up. Our next four games are conference.’
One of North Harrison’s biggest tests will come Friday night when the Cougars go to Brownstown.
‘We’ve got a lot of coaching to do this week. They’ll be focused because we’re playing Brownstown this week and it’s a conference game. It’s not how I wanted to come in. I was wanting to have a cleaner game tonight.’
— North Harrison’s junior varsity team may give the Cougar varsity team something to think about on its visit to Brownstown. The junior Cougars got their first-ever win over the Braves, 31-0, last Monday.
‘It was a pretty big win for me because for the 13 years I’ve been coaching here and taken JV teams up there and had never beat them,’ said coach Tony Waynescott. ‘I think it showed them we’re going in the right direction.’
‘I think it’s big-time momentum and it also helped show the varsity they can go up there and win. I told them (before the game) let’s show these guys what we’re bringing up here next week. They did that. From the time we stepped off the bus until the end of the game we did a good job.’