Braves gouge North Harrison, 55-22
Alan Stewart, Contributing Writer
Three first-half fumbles got host North Harrison off on the wrong foot Friday night in Ramsey as Brownstown Central scored on its first eight possessions in coasting to a 55-22 Mid-Southern Conference victory.
The Braves (3-1, 2-1 MSC) racked up more than 500 yards of offense on the ground. Leading the way for the Braves was senior back Jayden Steinkamp, who tallied 196 yards on 15 carries with touchdown runs of 17, 16, 24 and 36 yards. Junior quarterback Kiernan Tiemeyer followed with 125 yards on five carries, Lucas Hines ended with 100 yards on eight attempts and Nicholas Robbins had 77 yards on seven carries with a pair of scores.
The week prior in a narrow loss to Salem, Brownstown Central had only 104 yards rushing.
“Hats off to Brownstown; they were clicking like they hadn’t all year,” North Harrison coach Mark Williamson said. “It’s uncharacteristic for us to put the ball on the ground. I can’t tell you the last time we had three fumbles in a game, much less a half. That hasn’t happened in years. We just weren’t tough enough tonight, for whatever reason. We didn’t play with an attitude.”
Brownstown Central jumped out to a 14-0 lead at the first stop after 43-yard and 33-yard touchdown runs by Tiemeyer.
The Braves stuck three more scores on the board — two coming after North Harrison fumbles — before the Cougars (3-2, 3-2 MSC) were able to finally answer.
Trailing 35-0, the Cougars turned to Colby Whittaker, who burst through the line and floated down the sideline from 55 yards out for the touchdown. Quarterback Colt Beach added a two-point conversion run to make it 35-8 with 3:50 left in the half.
Brownstown Central added another score with 1:43 left to set the half-time mark at 42-8.
During the break, Williamson challenged his players to keep their head in the game and fight to the end.
With a running clock in the second half, thanks to the Braves’ lead, the Cougars “won” the second half, 14-13.
Brownstown Central pushed the margin to 49-8 before North Harrison’s workhorse, Aaron Nevil, busted loose from 25 yards for a trip to the end zone. The two-point try failed, however.
The visitors scored for the final time with 12.1 seconds left in the third quarter on Steinkamp’s 36-yard run, which was followed by a missed kick.
Set up by a pass from Kaleb Kellems to Beach for 17 yards, Nevil scored again from 25 away with 7:09 remaining in the contest, with Beach calling his own number for the PAT run and the final margin.
With no turnovers in the second half, Williamson said his club showed it could have competed much better with the Braves had it not given away three possessions and turned the ball over on downs twice in the first half.
“Had we been able to do that the first half, get rid of the fumbles, it would have been a football game. But once we had those three fumbles in the first half, it was over,” he said. “We have to match them score for score and run the clock down like we do, and that’s how we beat them in ’15 and in ’17. We didn’t fumble in ’15 and ’17. It was four and five yards a clip, and we actually stopped them a few times, especially in ’17. Our job is to control the football and, if you fumble, you can’t control it. We took ourselves out of it.
“(Brownstown) came out very determined and kind of took our will away for a little bit. We kind of got dominated up front defensively and gave them big holes to run through and then we couldn’t tackle in space and we just couldn’t stop them. They executed flawlessly,” Williamson said of Brownstown Central. “We challenged them at halftime to win the second half. Now, technically, we did by a point, so that’s a success.”
Nevil rushed 33 times for 222 yards, while Whittaker chalked up 105 yards on nine carries.
Beach was 3 for 9 for 36 yards passing, with Kellems catching two for 28 yards and Nick Gunter getting a single pass for eight yards.
Defensively for the Cougars, leading the way was Whittaker with seven tackles, Matthew Nealy had five tackles, Aiden Combs had four tackles and Noah Marrs tallied three tackles with three assists.
With MSC title hopes now dashed with a second conference loss, Williamson said his team will focus on improving down the stretch to prepare for sectional play.
“There was a team I was with that lost by 48 points during the regular season and in sectional we came back and beat them 10-7, so anything can happen,” Williamson said. “We have to focus on eliminating our mistakes.”
North Harrison has lost two straight after starting the season 3-0 and will look to right the ship Friday night at home against winless Eastern (Pekin), which is coming off a 44-6 blow-out loss against Corydon Central. The Cougars own an 11-2 all-time record against Eastern and haven’t lost to the Musketeers since back-to-back losses in 2010 and 2011.
Brownstown Central 14 28 13 0 – 55
North Harrison 0 8 6 8 – 22
Brownstown Central – Kiernan Tiemeyer, 43, run (Cooper Wolka kick); Brownstown Central – Kiernan Tiemeyer, 33, run (Wolka kick); Brownstown Central – Kiernan Tiemeyer, 33, run (Wolka kick); Brownstown Central – Nicholas Robbins, 11, run (Wolka kick); Brownstown Central – Jayden Steinkamp, 17, run (Wolka kick); North Harrison – Colby Whittaker, 55, run (Colt Beach run); Brownstown Central – Steinkamp, 16, run (Wolka kick); Brownstown Central – Steinkamp, 24, run (Wolka kick); North Harrison – Aaron Nevil, 25, run (run fail); Brownstown Central – Steinkamp, 36, run (kick fail); North Harrison – Nevil, 25, run (Beach run).