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Salem upends Cougars in 4th

Salem upends Cougars in 4th
Salem upends Cougars in 4th
North Harrison running back Brandon Craig found himself upside down as he was upended by SalemÂ’s Kameron Day in the second half of the LionsÂ’ 27-6 sectional win over the Cougars. Photo by Wade Bell (click for larger version)

The North Harrison Cougars and visiting Salem Lions were deadlocked in a stalemate for three quarters Friday night in the opening round of sectional play. When the fourth quarter came, however, the Lions went on the attack and scored three touchdowns to secure a 27-6 win and advance in the tournament.
‘I thought we played really well defensively at times for most of the night,’ Cougars coach Mark Williamson said. ‘They gashed us a few times, but it was 6-6 going into the fourth quarter, and I think we had the ball down getting ready to drive them. Once we got inside the 10, we had some trouble. We got down in there two or three times with no points in deep four-down territory.’
Neither team scored in the first, but North Harrison marched the ball down to the one-yard line by the end of period. On the opening play of the second period, Austin Nevil took the ball in to put the Cougars on the board first with a 6-0 lead.
Salem used its first possession of the period to get on the board as well. After returning the ball to the 21-yard line, the Lions pushed the ball to the 49-yard line on three plays. Then came a costly pass interference call on the Cougars that put the Lions on the 25-yard line. Three plays later, Andrew Maudlin punched into the end zone from 10 yards out. North Harrison blocked the extra point, leaving the game in a 6-6 tie at halftime.
‘They made some real good adjustments to our running game, and it was tough sledding after the first quarter,’ Williamson said. ‘We had 68 yards rushing after the first quarter. We were pretty much doing the things we wanted to. The game plan was going good. They started stiffening up, and we had to make adjustments at half. It was kind of a chess match back and forth there for about three quarters.’
Salem was forced to give up the ball on its first two possessions of the third quarter, and the Cougars booted the ball away on their first possession of the half. On North Harrison’s second possession of the period, the Cougars moved the ball on the ground, catching a break at one point on fourth-and-four when Salem was called for offsides, giving the Cougars a first down. Three more plays came and the Cougars found themselves at fourth-and-three to go. Jack Phelps kept the ball, fighting for the first down, but he came up a foot short and the ball went back to Salem.
That’s when things began to go bad for the Cougars. Salem used 10 plays to score with 9:31 left in the game. The Lions got the conversion for two and took a 14-6 lead. The Cougars gave up the ball after three plays again, then Salem pushed the ball for 10 plays to score with Maudlin scoring on a four-yard run for a 21-6 lead.
Salem kept the momentum as the Cougars stalled. The Lions would get one more touchdown on a 30-yard run from quarterback Klayton Dougherty for the final 27-6 score, putting the Cougars out of the tournament.
‘They just went in harder and blocked harder,’ Williamson said of the fourth quarter. ‘They didn’t do anything different. They were trapping our deep end. That’s what I saw from the sidelines a couple of times, and we didn’t close and spill it like we’ve been teaching since the day we got here. That’s part of it.’
‘They were making adjustments,’ Williamson said. ‘We’ve run behind a couple of guys all year, and they were the first team to figure that out. We had to start running behind the other two guys. We flip-flopped our line so it was tough offensively.
‘I thought we played well defensively,’ he continued. ‘I thought we tackled well. We had a new freshman middle linebacker that started in there tonight. I think he earned his stripes. That’s good. We have a new freshman tailback, too, that played quite a bit. We’ve got some young kids that can play and they got some experience this year.’
The Cougars ended their season with a record of 2-8 for the year. The North Harrison coach said work for next season will begin in less than a month.
‘I feel like we’ve poured the fillers on this and are ready to start building,’ Williamson said. ‘I think we’ve changed the culture a little bit on some items, not completely as a whole, but we have a little bit.’
‘The rest of the off season, from November to May, is where you win games,’ he said. ‘To me, these games have already been won or lost before we took the field, the 2012 season. They win them or lose them from November to May. Then the summer going 7-on-7’s, we’ve got to really get involved in that because we’re just getting out-athleted, out-schemed, out-football instinct, out-everything, in our passing game and defending the pass and throwing the ball.’
‘Everything is here to turn this program around,’ Williamson said. ‘The administration is very supportive. We’ve got the facilities. These facilities, this weight room, this stadium, we’re up to snuff on everything. Our field equipment for practice, our practice field, I wish I could say we need this and this and this, that’s why we don’t win. But all of those things are already in place.’