Hurricane, Panthers tamed by North
While the cost of stain remover may have been saved, the use of a clothes dryer needed some overtime work after Friday night’s edition of the Big Cat Classic.
North Harrison opted the day before the game to move the venue to Floyd Central’s Ron Weigleb Stadium. The close proximity, availability and the artificial turf field provided a better playing surface for the players. The fans, however, were still bundled in rain gear with some wrestling umbrellas as they fought the wind and rains.
Through the steady rain, North Harrison’s ground game won out, while its defense posted a shutout, defeating rival Corydon Central 28-0.
‘It was set up for a mistake game, and I think we made less mistakes than they did,’ North Harrison coach Mark Williamson said. ‘We had one fumble, and we were able to recover it. They had a few fumbles, and we were able to recover them.’
At Thursday’s practice, North Harrison utilized a bucket of water to simulate the wet conditions. Center Colton Sieberns repeated snaps to quarterback Avery Blocker to prepare for the moisture.
Sixteen snaps were made on North Harrison’s opening drive. All clean, the drive ended with Blocker scoring from the 2-yard line. It was a drive that required a few key fourth-down pickups.
From the Corydon 38, Blocker used a kick-out block by Jaylen Peake to move the sticks on fourth-and-1. Getting the call again on the 26, Blocker converted another fourth-and-1 with a sneak up the middle, getting an extra shove from fullback Tate Griffin.
‘Their quarterback is just a good player,’ Corydon Central coach Aaron Humphrey said. ‘He gets them out of trouble. None of us as offensive coordinators want to see a third-and-8, but he’s good enough to get them out of it. He continued to do that all night. When they needed a play on third and short or third and long, (Blocker) made the play and we didn’t have an answer.’
The drive culminated with Blocker’s first of two touchdowns.
‘That was a good drive,’ Williamson said. ‘We kept the ball moving. We always have to adjust once we find out how they are going to defend us. People defend us differently than other teams because of our running game.’
Corydon Central advanced the ball to near midfield on its first drive. Canaan Mercer had a pick up of 13 yards on a hand-off, but the drive eventually stalled.
Two drives later, Corydon Central was pinned inside its own 10. A penalty on North Harrison gave the Panthers a chance to move the ball ahead. The drive later fizzled, sending a punt back to North Harrison.
Before the half, North Harrison went to Peake and Blocker to share carries. Peake fought his way between tackles to score from the 4-yard line, giving the Cougars a two-touchdown advantage. Place-kicker Ben Waynescott had his extra point skim off the crossbar for a 14-0 North Harrison lead at half.
‘The conditions didn’t affect us too much because we don’t pass the ball a whole lot anyways,’ Blocker said. ‘We stuck to our game plan: run it down their throat and take time off the clock.’
A few penalties hampered Corydon Central’s first two drives of the second half. Through the rain, the second drive saw quarterback Noah Windell complete a sideline pass to Braydon Beauchamp for 12 yards. The next play sent the Panthers backward on a holding call. Windell and Beauchamp nearly hooked up again, but the pass fell incomplete.
‘We hit a fade, and we lost it in the lights,’ Humphrey said. ‘It was to the point where Noah said he could throw it, so we took some shots. Offensively, right now, we have to find something we can hang our hat on. We need some offensive rhythm. The last few weeks, I don’t know if we’ve had it. For a little bit, we had it against Brownstown. We have to become more consistent offensively.’
North Harrison put together another long drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters. It took another big fourth-down conversion by Blocker to score. Needing to score from the 16, Blocker faked a hand-off and rolled to his right. Not finding a window to throw, he tucked and ran, bouncing off Corydon Central’s Ben Johnson before crossing into the end zone.
‘That was exciting to score my senior year, probably the last time playing Corydon,’ Blocker said of the TD that put his team up 21-0 on Luke Robertson’s made extra point.
Special teams came up big on the next kick-off when Corydon Central’s Weston Goodman misplayed the ball off the turf. Swooping in, North Harrison’s Blake Schickel recovered the fumble.
Peake later put away the game for good with his second touchdown. The junior running back ran for 185 yards on 28 carries. Blocker wasn’t far behind statistically, rushing for 120 yards on 16 touches. Jake Harley (12 yards), Kohana Wilks (seven yards) and Griffin (six yards) also had carries. Blocker also had 10 solo tackles.
‘We made less mistakes than they did, handled the ball better than they did,’ Williamson said. ‘They stuffed our o-line for a good part of the game, then we wore them down to get some movement in our running game.’
Corydon Central lost two fumbles, while North Harrison fumbled once but recovered the rock.
‘I’m not sure what happened on our fumble; it was (Peake). But, with all the carries he had, to have one fumble in these conditions, is still a good showing,’ Williamson said.
‘For 3, 3-1/2 quarters, I thought we competed against a good football team,’ Humphrey said. ‘We’ve played three really good football teams already. I told the kids those teams are going to win a lot of football games this year. We have to come back to work on Monday and get better. I do know we got better from last Friday night to tonight. We are going to keep getting better. We are getting closer.’
Corydon Central had trouble moving the football against North Harrison, which, after Friday, is statistically the best defensive team in Class 3A (4.67 points per game allowed).
Mercer rushed for 33 yards on 16 carries, while Goodman had 16 yards. In all, the Panthers posted 69 yards of total offense.
‘I thought we played a lot better up front,’ Humphrey said. ‘We fixed some things defensively. From an offensive line standpoint, we moved some guys around up front. I thought it helped, but, once again, we didn’t have a lot of cohesion from offense to defense to special teams.’
Williamson lauded the effort of his defense to post a shutout, the second in a row versus Corydon Central in the Big Cat Classic series. The only other consecutive shutouts came when Corydon Central topped the Cougars in 2002 (40-0) and 2003 (64-0).
‘Defensively, we played well,’ Williamson said. ‘I think we executed well tonight on defense. We’re a pretty good defensive team, giving up 14 points in three games. We knew coming in that was the strength of our football team.’
The shift to Floyd Central was welcomed as well. There was no mud, and the playing surface was neutral the entire contest.
‘It was nice to come here,’ Blocker said. ‘We play on turf when we go to camp before the season during the summer. It’s way faster and really nice. The rain really didn’t affect us a lot mainly because we were on the turf.’
‘When you have this facility and turf, why tear up somebody’s football field if we have the luxury of moving the game,’ Humphrey said. ‘It’s an opportunity for our kids to play on turf.’
As far as the game, Williamson said the game was ‘good as far as what was going on on the field but probably not to watch. Nobody enjoys watching a game in a hurricane.’
However, students, some sporting swimming gear, still filed into the stands.
The win moves North Harrison to 3-0 overall and in the Mid-Southern Conference with a home contest against Charlestown set for Friday. Corydon Central, meanwhile, drops to 0-3 and 0-2 in the MSC. The Panthers will host Scottsburg on Friday.
Corydon Central 0 0 0 0 ‘ 0
North Harrison 7 7 0 14 ‘ 28
NH ‘ Avery Blocker 2 run (Ben Waynescott kick); NH ‘ Jaylen Peake 4 run (Waynescott kick); NH ‘ Blocker 16 run (Luke Robertson kick); NH ‘ Peake 6 (Robertson kick).