Missed opportunites haunt North
With its on-again, off-again offense sputtering, North Harrison suffered its second loss in the Mid-Southern Conference in as many weeks on Friday night.
This time, the victorious opponent was Clarksville, a club that came into Ramsey riding a three-game winning streak and sporting a defense that had allowed just one touchdown in each of those three contests.
Clarksville (4-3, 3-2 M.S.C.) posted 14 first quarter points and never looked back in a 27-6 victory over the home-standing Cougars.
North Harrison (3-4, 1-2 M.S.C.) was held to just 129 yards of total offense, with a large chunk of that coming on one dazzling, 56-yard touchdown run by freshman Bryan Schroeder. The hosts turned the ball over three times, after committing four turnovers at Brownstown two weeks ago.
‘We really need someone to step up, since Andrew Johnson has went down. No one has stepped up to take a leadership role. Johnson was our pulse, and right now were flat-lining,’ said Cougar coach Jason Mullis. ‘We’re trying to build a solid program, and to do that it takes time. No one in their right mind can dwell on losses in the first season of a new program.
‘Wins and losses will come and go. That has to be our mind set: Focus on the things we did well, get better at the things we didn’t do so well.’
Johnson, a junior, tore an anterior cruciate ligament in his knee two weeks ago and is out for the season.
The visitors drew first blood on a seven-play, 53-yard drive led by Clarksville quarterback Brad Daily, who came into the game as the league’s second leading passer. Daily ran one in from nine yards out for the score.
In addition to his rushing prowess, Daily wound up 9 of 15 for 122 yards through the air.
‘We talked about throwing it more tonight, but when we scored those early points, we decided to run the ball and run some clock like you’re supposed to,’ long-time Clarksville coach Dennis Hawkins said. ‘Als,o I don’t want Brad to throw interceptions. Sometimes he’ll try to force things if he throws too much.’
Mullis said he wasn’t surprised that Clarksville didn’t take to the air more than they did, pointing out that the Generals converted several third-and-long plays.
Following Clarksville’s score, Josh Spillman added the first of three successful PAT kicks for a 7-0 lead.
After forcing a punt by the Cougars, Clarksville took over at midfield and drove the distance in 11 plays. Daily connected with Drew Curry from six yards out for the 14-0 lead, which lasted until halftime.
North Harrison had three possessions in the second frame, but they resulted in two fumbles and a turnover on downs ‘ all inside the 30-yard line.
‘The blood was in the water,’ Mullis said, ‘but we never attacked.’
The Cougars had their first drive of the second half stall near midfield and were forced to punt.
Spurred by a 46-yard, hitch-and-go pass from Daily to Ryan Bobay (the conference’s leading receiver), the Generals marched 82 yards in 10 plays. Spillman topped off the effort with a one-yard plunge to end the third quarter with his club on top, 21-0.
Clarksville extended the lead to 27-0 on a 15-yard run by Kent Lewellen with 5:16 left in the fourth period.
The Cougars avoided their first shutout of the season thanks to Schroeder’s run. The wily freshman narrowly avoided being brought down in the backfield, bounced outside left end and raced downfield. He juked his way between two defenders near the goal line for the score.k
Schroeder led North’s rushing attack with 89 yards. Cory Beckman followed suit with 37.
North’s loss was the fourth straight to the Generals after winning three consecutive from 1998 to 2000.