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Cougars maul Musketeers

Cougars maul Musketeers
Cougars maul Musketeers
North Harrison’s Sawyer Wetzel (8) runs by Eastern’s Dallis Starritt (22) for a gainer in the first half of the Cougars’ 42-6 win over the Musketeers. Photo by Wade Bell
Wade Bell, Sports Writer

After taking hard falls to Charlestown and Brownstown the previous two weeks, the North Harrison Cougars finally got to deliver some punishment in their visit to Pekin Friday night where they mauled Eastern 42-6. It was a solid win for the Cougars who were 1-4 going into the contest.

“Any win is good right now,” said North Harrison coach Mark Williamson. “They’re all good. It doesn’t matter what year it is, but especially this year. Any win is good.”

North Harrison opened the game running a solid ground game with Owen Whittaker carrying the ball down to the Eastern 23-yard line on six carries. Sawyer Wetzel took the ball on the next play, catching the Musketeers off guard, and ran the final yardage into the end zone for six. Landon McIntire got the extra point, and the Cougars were on the board first.

Neither team scored through the remainder of the period then, in the second quarter, the Cougars went full throttle. Less than a minute into the period, Whittaker went in for six on an 18-yard run. Whittaker also completed a two-point conversion, and North Harrison’s lead was 15-0.

Eastern fumbled the ball to the Cougars on the first play of its next possession. Nine plays later, North Harrison scored again as Colt Beach carried the ball for six more and a 22-0 lead.

The Musketeers went three and done on their next offensive drive. The Cougars ran nine plays and, with less than two seconds left on the clock, Wetzel got his second six of the night on a four-yard run for a 29-0 lead at the break.

“We wanted to come out and play North Harrison football,” Williamson said. “We wanted to be old school North Harrison and take it right at them. That’s what we did in the first quarter. We’ve got some capabilities of doing some other things. I thought Beach threw the ball well.”

Eastern regrouped during the half-time break and came out with more authority on its next possession. The Musketeers mixed up a passing and ground game, moving the ball to the Cougars’ 22-yard line. On the next play, Cody Banet threw to Nathan Teusch in the end zone. Kaleb Kellems was there, however, stretching high to haul in the interception, ending the Musketeers’ threat and getting the ball back for the Cougars.

“Kellems owns that interception,” Williamson said of the junior. “He’s a dynamic player. He’s 6-3, 6-4, can jump, can run good. He’s gotten tougher. He’s probably the best receiver I’ve coached since I’ve been at North Harrison. He’s a good defensive back. He’s just a good football player. He’s one of our best players right now. It’s obvious … We look to get him the ball. He’s that good of player.”

The Cougars failed to convert the Musketeers’ turnover but so did Eastern on its next possession. The Musketeers gave up the ball on their own 26-yard line, and Riley Schneider returned the Eastern punt back to the three. Whittaker got his second TD from there, and the period ended with the Cougars enjoying a 36-0 lead.

That meant a running clock during the final 12 minutes. Eastern finally got on the board when Tommy Hurst hit Teusch for a 32-yard strike. North Harrison later got six more on the board when Beach hit Kellems for six and the 42-6 final.

“I think we got better offensively a little bit,” Williamson said. “Our execution was a little better. We’ll see next week (against Silver Creek). Next week we’ll see if we’ve really gotten better. I know we have. I know we understand more. You normally are (better) at week six than you are on week three or two. You should get better every week. We looked better.”

Whittaker led the Cougars with 108 yard rushing on 19 carries, and Wetzel had 60 yards on six carries. Beach had five carries for 38 yards. The Cougars completed 3 of 5 passes for 65 yards throwing.

Teusch led the Musketeers with 36 yards rushing on six carries, and Brayden Jones had 23 yards on three carries. Dallis Starrett had six carries for 20 yards. Eastern threw the ball 15 times, completing seven for 82 yards in the air.

“Hopefully, our defense can get some momentum,” said the North Harrison coach. “I get that their starting running back was out. I thought we had some pretty good stops and some different things. We made a mistake with a first-year player on a screen-fade for their touchdown. I bet that doesn’t happen again to him.”

North Harrison                     7   22     7     6 – 42

Eastern Pekin                      0     0     0     6 –   6

North Harrison-Sawyer Wetzel, 23 yd run (Landon McIntire kick); North Harrison-Owen Whittaker, 18 yd run (Whittaker conv); North Harrison-Colt Beach, 3 yd run (McIntire kick); North Harrison-Wetzel, 4 yd run (McIntire kick); North Harrison-Whittaker, 3 yd run (McIntire kick); Eastern Pekin-Nathan Teusch from Cody Banet, 32 yd pass (kick failed); North Harrison-Kaleb Kellems from Beach, 27 yd pass (kick failed).