Cougars throttle Clarksville as Nevil runs for 5 TDs
Alan Stewart, Contributing Writer
North Harrison had no problem Friday avoiding a similar outcome to last year’s 62-60 shoot-out loss against Clarksville.
Spurred by nearly 300 yards rushing by senior Aaron Nevil, which helped him set the new single-season yardage record during head coach Mark Williamson’s tenure, the Cougars pounded the visitors, 54-12, to close out the regular season slate at 6-3.
Nevil scored five touchdowns on runs of five, seven, six, four and 25 yards and had five two-point conversion runs to go with 294 yards rushing and 13 yards receiving. With his output Friday, Nevil has 1,975 yards on the season, surpassing Sam Best’s 1,756 yards in 2014 for the top spot under Williamson. Bryan Schroeder, who went on to play at Central Michigan University, holds the program’s all-time record with 2,557 yards in 2005.
“(Two-pointers) were what allowed us to catch up to them last year. We almost caught them because we made more two-point conversions than them. That was probably the roughest bus ride home of my career was after that game. We didn’t play well; there were a couple of onside kicks that they recovered,” Cougars coach Williamson said about last year’s stinger. “They were without one of their top guys (Dae’von Fuqua) due to injury, but we weren’t taking any chances this year and that’s why we went for the conversions.
“It would have been a different game with him in there, but I think we still come out comfortably ahead, the way we played,” he said.
North Harrison raced out to a 16-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and was up 40-6 at halftime. The hosts notched 14 more points in the third before letting off the gas in the fourth period. Clarksville’s only touchdowns came on a 68-yard pass from Keyshawn Minor to Marquis Forward and a 75-yard kick-off return by Robert Lamar.
The Cougars were incredibly efficient on offense, with only four of the 54 plays being on third down and one being on fourth down. Defensively, North Harrison held Clarksville to 144 total yards of offense, 2-9 on third downs and 0-6 on fourth downs. One fumble with North Harrison’s second unit in the game and just three penalties for 15 yards were the lone blemishes on the night.
“This is the fourth straight game that we had where (starters) didn’t put the ball on the ground, so we are taking care of the ball and, penalty-wise, we are keeping those down to a minimum, so we’re getting better,” Williamson said. “The most exciting thing is we are getting better defensively. I feel like we’ve been getting better since the second half of the Brownstown game.”
Junior quarterback Colt Beach, who scored the second touchdown of the game for the winners, has eight completions in his last 12 throws during the span of three games, which adds another dimension to the Cougars’ attack heading into the post-season. One of the passes Friday went to sophomore Sawyer Wetzel for a 39-yard touchdown strike.
Rounding out the rushing attack, Colby Whittaker had seven carries for 52 yards, Owen Whittaker had seven carries for 38 yards and Wetzel had one attempt for 16 yards.
Defensively for the Cougars, Wetzel had four solo tackles and two assists, Matthew Nealy had three solos and three assists, Kaleb Kellems had three solos, two assists and one tackle for a loss, Garrett Schroeder had four assists with two solos and Cody Cotrell had one solo, two assists, one sack and one tackle for a loss. Landon King added three assists and one solo tackle. Also, Noah Marrs had two assists on the night.
With the regular season schedule in the rear-view mirror, North Harrison shifts its focus to the postseason this Friday night at 7:30 as it hosts Evansville Bosse (0-8), a team the Cougars defeated in the opening round of last year’s sectional, 36-7. Bosse has been shut out five times this season and averages 2.8 points a game.
But, make no mistake, Williamson isn’t taking the Bulldogs lightly.
“They are similar to Clarksville as a spread team, and they like to throw the ball around. I hope we get the same result (as last year),” Williamson said. “It’s a long bus ride for them, and we’re at the time where you win or you’re done.”
Tickets for the opening round of sectional are $6 each.
The winner will face the victor of Friday night’s Corydon Central (5-3) vs. Salem (5-2) game in Sectional 32 action. In the opposite bracket, Gibson Southern (6-3) will travel to Heritage Hills (4-5) Friday, while Mount Vernon (Posey) (5-2) plays host to undefeated Southridge (9-0).
Clarksville 0 6 0 6 – 12
North Harrison 16 24 14 0 – 54
North Harrison — Aaron Nevil, 6, run (Nevil run); North Harrison — Colt Beach, 1, run (Nevil run); North Harrison — Nevil, 7, run (Nevil run); Clarksville — Marquis Forward, 68, pass from Keyshawn Minor (pass failed); North Harrison — Nevil, 5, run (Nevil run); North Harrison — Sawyer Wetzel, 39, pass from Beach (Nevil run); North Harrison — Nevil, 5, run (Matthew Nealy kick); North Harrison — Nevil, 25, run (Nealy kick); Clarksville — Robert Lamar, 75, kickoff return (pass fail).