Paoli tops Cougars 40-14
The North Harrison Cougars football team kept the Paoli Rams within striking distance for nearly three quarters before succumbing to a 40-14 defeat Friday night in Ramsey in the final regular season game.
It didn’t take Paoli (7-2) long, or even getting the offense on the field, to put points on the board.
Tanner Wroblewski caught an overthrown pass by North Harrison quarterback Jack Phelps and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown to put the Rams ahead 6-0 less than two minutes into the game. The Cougars defense held strong on the two-point conversion attempt, stopping a run play for no gain.
The next possession for North Harrison (2-7) ended similarly with another Phelps’ interception.
North Harrison’s defense got the ball back when Derrick Harter recovered a fumble. The offense couldn’t get anything going, however, and was forced to punt.
Cougar defender Trey Kuerzi made a great open field tackle on the punt return, but a drive beginning around mid-field ended with a fumble recovery for a touchdown for Paoli to end the first quarter scoring 13-0.
After the Cougars again punted back to the Rams, the North Harrison defense created momentum for the home team. Defensive back Steven House picked off a Paoli pass attempt and returned it to the house 37 yards for a touchdown. Phelps added the extra point.
Paoli added two more scores before the half ended to steal back the momentum and take a 26-7 lead to the break.
The second half began with a strong, time-consuming drive from the North Harrison offense that ended with a Brandon Craig touchdown. The extra point by Phelps pulled the Cougars to within 12.
Paoli’s ensuing possession ended with a touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter, but it was almost stopped by a fumble recovery that North Harrison thought it recovered. Instead, it was given to the Rams.
Paoli added another late touchdown to finish the scoring.
Paoli finished with 283 yards of offense to only 93 for North Harrison.
Craig, who scored the lone offensive touchdown for North Harrison, finished with 25 yards on 14 carries. Freshman Austin Nevil picked up 37 yards in the fourth quarter to lead the Cougars rushing output. Dylan Lowe of Paoli led all rushers with 80 yards.
North Harrison will host Salem on Friday in the first round of 3A sectional 23.