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Cougars beaten down by Charlestown

Cougars beaten down by Charlestown
Cougars beaten down by Charlestown
Charlestown running back Jaron Almeciga applies a stiff arm to North Harrison senior Kaleb Kellems during the first quarter of the Pirates’ 39-7 victory over the Cougars on Friday. Photo by Brandon Miniard
Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]

After winning the annual Big Cat Classic against rival Corydon Central 28-7 in Week 3, the North Harrison football team felt as if it was on the precipice of turning the corner on its season after giving its best performance of the year against the Panthers.

That fire of hope was doused when the Cougars hosted rival Charlestown Friday. The Pirates came into the contest not just boasting superior speed and athleticism, but also greater overall size and strength, led by the physically imposing 6-foot-8, 330-pound frame of University of Kentucky-bound offensive tackle Kiyaunta Goodwin. Once 48 minutes concluded, the Cougars were on the receiving end of a 39-7 beatdown.

“He’s as advertised; he is definitely a power five player,” Cougars’ head coach Mark Williamson said of Goodwin. “Last year, he looked it and this year he’s playing like it. He dominated us. The one time we had a stop was when (Charlestown) took him out.”

Despite receiving the opening kick, the Cougars’ opening drive concluded six yards backward from where it began.

The Pirates took advantage of starting their first drive from the Cougars’ 40-yard line, needing under four minutes and six plays before quarterback Clay McClelland fired a 13-yard pass to Zander Morris to open the scoring.

The Pirates had a similar stroke of luck on their next drive in the second quarter, marching all the way from their 21-yard line before McClelland struck gold once more, this time finding Jake Ottersbach in the Cougars’ end zone for the score. The Cougars responded with just under three minutes to go in the first half when junior running back Sawyer Wetzel capped off an 11-play drive with a seven-yard rushing touchdown.

Despite junior kicker Landon McIntire’s converted kick cutting the deficit to 14-7, the Pirates answered right back with 56 yards on just two plays. Two plays later, McClelland sent the Pirates to the locker room with a 20-7 edge after a one-yard rushing touchdown.

Inspired by their first-half performance, the Pirates turned up the intensity in the second half with three additional touchdowns in the third quarter. McClelland was responsible for the first two of those scores, once again finding Ottersbach on touchdown passes of 49 and 27 yards, respectively. Morris followed with a 9-yard rushing score with just over a minute to go in the period.

The fourth quarter was merely a formality as the Pirates’ defense held the Cougars’ offense at bay. Despite Goodwin spending the second half on the sideline, it made little difference as the Pirates walked away with the 39-7 victory.

The Pirates bludgeoned the Cougars on the offensive end, finishing with 438 total yards. McClelland was responsible for more than half of them, going 10 of 15 with 207 passing yards and led the running game with 91 rushing yards on 16 carries. Of the Pirates’ six touchdowns, McClelland had a hand in five of them with four passing scores along with his one-yard rushing touchdown.

“Speed has killed us all year, the perimeter’s killed us. (Charlestown) spreads out and runs the ball,” Williamson said. “We’re just not very good tacklers, and tackling comes from athletic ability. We practice tackling but evidently not enough.”

Ottersbach led the Pirates’ receiving corps with 122 receiving yards, followed by Chase Benner’s 45, while Morris and Jake Helton each chipped in 20. The only visible thing that went wrong for the Pirates was off the foot of kicker Jaron Almeciga, who went only 1 of 4 in PAT attempts.

The Cougars’ offense struggled against the tough Pirates’ defense, recording only 183 total yards. Most of that limited offense came on the feet of sophomore wide receiver Owen Whittaker, who ran for 53 yards on 12 carries, followed by Wetzel’s 44 yards on 10 carries, including the Cougars’ only touchdown of the evening.

Senior quarterback Colt Beach, along with many of the Cougars, was contained for much of the night, managing only 22 yards on 2-of-5 passing, along with just six rushing yards on six carries. Junior wide receiver Kaleb Kellems was the sole positive recipient of Beach’s passing, notching 27 yards.

“We all just made little mistakes that we shouldn’t be making,” Beach said. “Just gotta get that all patched up here and move on to next week.

A new week won’t make things any easier for the Cougars (1-3, 1-3 MSC) as they travel to Jackson County on Friday to confront MSC powerhouse Brownstown Central (4-0, 3-0 MSC). The Braves, who have a conference-best 176 points of total offense this season, already bludgeoned one Harrison County foe this year when they opened the season by steamrolling Corydon Central 43-6. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.

Charlestown                   8   12   19     0 – 39

North Harrison               0     7     0     0 –   7

CH – Zander Morris 13 yd pass from Clay McClelland (McClelland 2-PT conversion); CH – Jake Ottersbach 10 yd pass from McClelland (conversion failed); NH – Wetzel 7 yd run (McIntire kick); CH – McClelland 1 yd run (kick failed); CH – Ottersbach 49 yd pass from McClelland (conversion failed); CH – Ottersbach 27 yd pass from McClelland (Jaron Almeciga kick); Morris 9 yd run (kick failed).