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NH slips to Batesville, 20-6

The Batesville Bulldogs used their postseason experience to their advantage Friday night in the first round of the sectional, eliminating the North Harrison Cougars, 20-6, at Ramsey.
It was the first time in several years North Harrison hosted a sectional game.
‘I thought we had our opportunities, but that’s a good ball club,’ said North Harrison coach Jason Mullis. ‘They really get after it. We’re still a young club, and we’ve got some things to fix. We’ve got to overcome our mistakes, and that’s the main thing.’
North Harrison’s first big mistake came on the game’s second play. The Cougars fumbled the ball to the Bulldogs, who immediately went to the ground game.
It took only six snaps before Batesville found its way into the end zone, the touchdown coming on a two-yard run by Kyle Green with 8:42 to go in the first quarter.
North got right back in it on its next possession. The Cougars started on their own 35-yard line, and Bryan Schroeder got his team its first down of the night. Two plays later, sophomore quarterback Michael Dean took the ball himself and went 54 yards for a score. Batesville blocked the extra point, however, keeping the Bulldogs in front 7-6.
After swapping turnovers, the Bulldogs scored again: Mattingly went to Hortemiller from six yards out. The extra point was unsuccessful, but Batesville had the lead, 13-7.
Both teams gave the ball up on downs before the half. With 11 seconds to go in the second quarter, North Harrison got another opportunity to score. Wes Kirk lofted a pass, but it was intercepted by Korey Padgett, leaving the halftime margin 13-6.
Mullis said keeping the game on the ground was the best way to approach the Bulldogs, who came in with a slightly larger team.
‘We felt like running the ball, and I thought we ran the ball well tonight,’ he said. ‘They’ve only got two kids going both ways (offense and defense), and we’ve got seven or eight.
‘It was just one of those things where they’re a better ball club and have a lot more players. They’ve been doing it a lot longer than we (the coaching staff) have. This is our first year. We gave them one of those (touchdowns) inside the five.’
Batesville, who got the ball to start the second half, ran seven plays before fumbling the ball away with 8:23 remaining in the third quarter.
The Bulldog defense stepped up, however, and got the ball back.
Mattingly hit Green for a first down on the first play of Batesville’s next possession. The Bulldogs moved the ball on the ground, with Becker trotting into the end zone on a six-yard run. Justin Tucker nailed the extra point, and the Bulldog lead grew to 20-6.
North Harrison kept possession through the remainder of the quarter. The Cougars moved the ball to the Batesville 19-yard line. On fourth-and-four Dean again ran the keeper, but this time he was thrown for a one-yard loss, giving Batesville the ball.
Neither club scored in the fourth quarter as Batesville held on for the win.
‘We gave them a touchdown or two, and we just can’t overcome our problems,’ Mullis said. ‘Every time we’d get something going we’d fumble or miss a block.’
‘We’re going to get a lot better,’ Mullis said. ‘These kids are very hard workers, and they shouldn’t have anything to hang their heads about. They played this ball club very well.’
Dean paced the Cougar ground game with six carries for 69 yards. Brendon Zellers had 10 rushes for 41 yards, while Bryan Schroeder picked up 24 yards on 11 tries before leaving the game with a knee injury. Cory Beckman carried eight times, but was limited to 10 yards. The Cougars had 144 rushing yards and 10 passing yards for 154 yards total offense. The Cougars picked up six first downs and turned the ball over four times.
Batesville totaled 237 rushing yards and 52 yards through the air for 289 yards total offense. The Bulldogs had three turnovers but moved the chains for 13 first downs.
On defense, Isaac Davis led North Harrison with 13 tackles, two for loss, and a sack. Chris Rawert made eight tackles.
Mullis said not having Schroeder in the game hurt, but Zellers worked hard to pick up the slack.
‘Schroeder is our big play kid,’ Mullis said. ‘Anytime he touches the football he can go to the house. I thought Zellers really stepped it up. He really had a heck of a game. He worked his tail off.
‘Hopefully, we can get some more kids in this community to come out and play football and get kids going one way. Tonight, we faced a team who’s a physical ball club that wore us out a little bit.’
North Harrison finished the season 4-6.
‘Overall, I’m happy for the season,’ Mullis said. ‘We had a great season to start off. The seniors laid a great foundation for us to start building on the right track. We’re headed in the right direction.’
Mullis said he is looking toward the future with anxious anticipation. The Cougar junior varsity unit went 5-2, shutting out Brownstown and West Washington. Mullis said with the talent coming up, a future sectional championship is not out of the question.
‘Our eighth-grade group lost two games, and they shouldn’t have lost those. They’ll tell you that. The seventh grade lost one game. The future is extremely bright. With the way these kids work so hard, we’ll be sectional champs. I can see it coming. I’m very excited about where we’re heading.’