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North puts the clamps on CC, 20-7

North puts the clamps on CC, 20-7
North puts the clamps on CC, 20-7
Brendan Zellers (40) of North Harrison tries to wrestle down Corydon Central running back Jason Ward (43) in the first half of Friday night's sectional semifinal in Ramsey. The Cougars pulled out a 20-7 victory to advance to the program's first sectional championship this Friday night at 8 at Batesville. The Bulldogs are four-time defending Sectional 23 champions. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

Fans at Friday night’s intra-county sectional war between Corydon Central and North Harrison probably expected a repeat of the Oct. 7 Big Cat Classic.
The first matchup resulted in an explosion of 81 points and 964 yards of offense by the two teams in North’s 55-26 victory.
Anyone hoping for identical video game numbers the second time around were in for a shock.
The two teams scored only 27 points and chalked up a lot less offense ‘ 659 yards, to be exact.
And while the stats were dissimilar, the final result was not.
Buoyed by its defense, including a crucial goal-line stand in the third period, North decked Corydon (1-9) for the second time this season, 20-7, to advance to the sectional championship game for the first time in its program’s history.
‘If they score there, it’s a tie ball game,’ North Harrison coach Jason Mullis said of the stand. ‘I definitely think that took a lot of air out of them. They were able to stop us on another drive, but then we got the ball back and then Bryan (Schroeder) got loose. It’s a matter of time with him, when he’s going to get loose.’
The Cougars (7-4), who matched their 1982 edition for most wins in a season, now travel to four-time defending Sectional 23 champion Batesville (8-3) on Friday night for an 8 p.m. start. North lost to Batesville in last year’s sectional opener, 20-6.
Tickets are $5 and are available at the North Harrison High School bookstore.
Schroeder, the super sophomore, rushed for 197 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns, and Isaac Davis added 84 yards on nine tries and scored once for the Cougars (7-4).
For the season, Schroeder has rushed for a state-best 2,412 yards, 29 rushing touchdowns, one receiving score, and three kick returns for TDs.
In Friday’s showdown, muffed snaps killed several drives by the home team. North dropped the ball eight times, losing three.
The game started off with turnovers by each team. But the second time North touched the ball, it struck gold.
With long runs by Schroeder, the state’s leading rusher, and a 12-yard run and a 32-yard reception by Isaac Davis, North marched from its own 23 to the Panthers’ six in 10 plays. Schroeder punched into the end zone from six yards out with 29 seconds left in the opening period. Dustin Robertson kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Corydon’s second possession of the second quarter proved to be the team’s longest drive and tied the game.
After recovering a North Harrison fumble, the Panthers rode the backs of Jason Ward, Josh Windell, Billy Saulman and Dustin Dones to journey 82 yards in 13 plays.
Receptions by Saulman and Dones put the Panthers on North’s 10-yard line, and then Windell, who ran the shotgun option during the drive, capped the expedition by racing in from seven yards out. Chad Salomon’s PAT kick knotted the affair at 7-all.
The tie lasted only 1:15.
A nice kickoff return by North’s Derek Rainbolt spotted the ball at midfield. Schroeder had long runs of 11 and 13 yards and caught a pass for 18 yards, and then Davis scored with 37 seconds left in the first half. Robertson’s second point-after kick gave the Cougars a 14-7 advantage.
North’s first drive of the second half ended with a fumble. Corydon took over at their own 48 and wasted no time in parading deep into Cougar territory.
The Panthers had first and goal from the 3-yard line. The first play resulted in a two-yard loss; the second went for no gain; and the third was a four-yard pass play from Windell to Dones, with a touchdown-saving tackle by Brendan Zellers.
After a time-out by Corydon, the two clubs lined up for what proved to be one of the biggest plays of the game.
Windell took the snap and tried to dive forward, but he was met by a mass of blue jerseys, who failed to yield any turf.
‘That was definitely the thing that gave them the momentum to push on,’ Corydon Central coach Jason Timberlake said. ‘We should have converted there. On second down we get down to the one-foot line. We had converted there a couple of times on that quarterback sneak, and they packed it inside.
‘That was the difference in the ball game.’
With the ball spotted at the 1-yard line, North got a bit of breathing room as Schroeder took the handoff from Dean and ran out 18 yards.
The Cougars relied on the ground game to bring the ball out to Corydon’s 26, and then Davis hauled in a 19-yard pass from Dean to the Panthers’ 6. A two-yard gain and then back-to-back fumbles killed North’s shot at a touchdown. Robertson attempted a field goal that wound up being wide.
With new life, Corydon took over at its own 20 and worked its way down the field.
Ward hauled in a three-yard pass and Walker caught one for 11 yards. After a run by Ward brought up fourth and long, Windell called Kyle White’s number.
Rolling out to his right, Windell lofted a pass to White, who was covered by three defenders. Somehow, the Panther junior came away with the reception at the Cougars’ 33.
The next play, however, dashed the Panthers’ hopes: a fumble gave the ball back to North Harrison.
Three plays later, Schroeder broke loose for a 40-yard TD run.
Corydon moved the ball again on its final drive, but the drive stalled and the team turned the ball over on downs.
Mullis said he saw a marked improvement in Corydon’s play.
‘They were able to move the ball without the big play a little better tonight,’ Mullis said of Corydon. ‘Their defense definitely improved. I still thought we ran the ball well on them.’
The final two games of the season, Corydon gave up just 27 points. For the regular season, it had given up 37.1 points per contest.
‘I thought our defense played well,’ Timberlake said. ‘We executed our game plan like we thought. We had a couple of long passes that we had blown coverage on, but we had some third down conversions there. Our defense, I’m real happy with them.
‘These players have been through a lot this season with injuries and other issues, but they kept after it and kept after it, and that says a lot about their character.’
Davis caught two passes for 62 yards to lead the Cougars. Dean was 4-6 for 91 yards. North ran for 302 yards.
Corydon rushed for 111 yards. Windell, who gained 44 yards on 13 carries, was 15-25 for 190 yards and two interceptions.
Dones caught six for 73 yards, and Walker caught three passes for 36 yards. Billy Saulman gained 24 yards on two catches.
Ward ran seven times for 32 yards and Saulman twice for 16 yards. White gained 12 yards on the ground.
Corydon had 15 first downs but was flagged for four penalties for 35 yards and committed three turnoves.
Defensively, Chris Rawert had 10 tackles, and Davis was second with eight. Brendan Zellars finished with five, and Hedgespeth, Stanley Robertson and Davis had one sack each. Hedgespeth and Schroeder each had an interception.