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NH sectional hopes turn to mud, 47-26

NH sectional hopes turn to mud, 47-26
NH sectional hopes turn to mud, 47-26
The state's leading rusher, North Harrison junior Bryan Schroeder, left, avoids Greensburg's Derrick Karazsia during Friday's sectional semifinal. Schroeder had three touchdowns, but it wasn't enough as the Cougars lost, 47-26. (Photo by Wade Bell)

The North Harrison Cougars made the long trip to Greensburg Friday night with hopes of pulling off an upset over the sectional host and making a serious bid for the school’s first football sectional championship. Instead, those hopes turned to mud, literally, as heavy rains turned the Greensburg field into a mud pit and the Cougars saw their season end in a 47-26 loss.
‘We started exactly how we wanted to,’ North Harrison coach Jason Mullis said. ‘It’s just that they’re a good ball club and the weather conditions hurt us. We hadn’t played in this stuff all year, and they had a game against Franklin County in it. They’re a heck of a ball club and they did a nice job.’
The game got off to a fast and furious start. Greensburg fumbled the ball to the Cougars on the seventh play of the Pirates’ first possession.
On North Harrison’s first play, running back Bryan Schroeder ran for a 57-yard touchdown. John Becker followed with the extra point, and the Cougars had a 7-0 lead.
Greensburg responded quickly as Derrick Karazsia ran 57 yards for a touchdown on the third play of the Pirates’ next possession.
However, just seconds later, Schroeder pounded out another touchdown as he ran 90 yards on the kickoff return to give the Cougars a 14-6 lead.
The quarter still had more to come as Greensburg’s Michael Pittman made a one-yard run to hit pay dirt. Pittman followed with a two-point conversion for a 14-14 tie after one quarter.
‘We came out and decided we were going to play our game like we did against Salem and do some stuff with our speed, but with these field conditions, it’s hard,’ Mullis said. ‘It’s hard to blitz and stunt. At the beginning of the game we were able to stop them, then the field got worse and worse and our kids just can’t move.’
The rains picked up and so did the Pirates. Less than two minutes into the second period, Kyle Inscho ran into the end zone from six yards. Christian Rust added the extra point and Greensburg had a 21-14 lead.
North Harrison’s problems continued, having to punt on its next possession.
Greensburg, however, needed only seven plays to cover 80 yards for another trek into the end zone as Karazsia cashed in on a 35-yard run for a 27-14 Pirate lead at halftime.
‘They do a nice job,’ Mullis said of the Greensburg offensive line, which made hole after hole for Karazsia and the Pirate running backs. ‘They hit low and hard. They’re probably a little faster than ours, and they’re bigger than us. They got underneath us and pushed us around a little bit.
‘They’ve been a running team all year. Their quarterback is the 11th leading rusher in the state. They haven’t needed the passing game. They’re a big running team.’
Karazsia scored again early in the third period on a 10-yard run. The Pirates didn’t stop there as they took advantage of a North Harrison fumble to score again, as Mitch Adams ran in from 22 yards to give Greensburg a 39-14 lead.
Then, injury was added to insult for the Cougars. Greensburg went for the onside kick, but North Harrison recovered near midfield. As players picked themselves up, however, two Cougars, Thomas Green and Devon Churchill, laid motionless on the field. Coaches and trainers from both side went to their aid.
Green slowly picked himself up, but Churchill was unconscious. Medical technicians immobilized Churchill to a backboard and transported him to a local hospital for a possible concussion.
North Harrison gave up the ball on its next possession, going three and out.
Frustrations continued as the Cougars committed three straight penalties during Greensburg’s next possession, but the Pirates failed to take advantage, giving the ball up on downs.
The Cougars tried to make a dent in their deficit with quarterback Michael Dean running 56 yards to set up the next Cougar touchdown. Schroeder scored from three yards, but North Harrison missed the extra point, the Pirates still enjoying a 39-20 advantage.
In the final four minutes, there were two more touchdowns, one by each team. Karazsia made his fourth visit to the end zone with just over four minutes to go, and Cougar senior Isaac Davis made the last score of his career in the final seconds as Greensburg celebrated a 47-26 win.
‘It just started off awful,’ Mullis said of the second half. ‘I don’t how many fumbles we had. We had three we lost to start the second half. We got them to cough it up a couple of times, but then we’d give it right back to them.’
Schroeder carried the ball 15 times for 100 yards and three touchdowns, including the 90-yard kick off return. Dean had eight carries for 86 yards, and Davis had six carries for 56 yards. The Cougars had 238 yards of total offense. John Becker made two of his three extra-point kick attempts.
‘They did a nice job stopping Bryan,’ Mullis said. ‘Bryan had some big runs early on, but the bottom line is they just took us out of our game.’
Karazsia had 16 carries for 148 yards and four TDs. Bobby Scudder had 23 carries for 107 yards, and Pittman had 11 carries for 53 yards. Adams finished with 44 yards on four carries, and Inscho had four carries for 13 yards. Karazsia completed one pass for 41 yards. The Pirates had 413 yard of total offense.
‘We had some things that set us back,’ Mullis said. ‘We jumped out quick and our defense started off quick. It just wasn’t enough to work against them. We started reading again, and every time we’d sit back and read and wait, this is what happens. It’s happened to us before.’
The Cougars finish their season at 7-2, the best record in school history.
‘This is the best winning percentage they’ve ever had. We’ve got six seniors we’re going to miss dearly. They did a nice job leading this crew. We wish we could have played Brownstown,’ Mullis said, referring to a game that was rained out.
‘They’re a special group,’ he said of his seniors. ‘I’m going to miss every one of those guys. They did a nice job, and now we’ve got to go back and get back to work.
‘We’ll have to have some underclassmen step up and get in the weight room. They’re going to have to take the place of those guys. Overall, we’re going to have a lot of people coming back. We’re looking forward to this team next year and try to get a little bit better.’