LINDEN -- The undefeated Class 2A third-ranked North Putnam Cougars' football team traveled to Linden Friday night to play No. 11 in the semifinal round of the Sectional 29 and came away with a 13-6 win.
The Cougars entered the game hoping to avenge a 21-20 loss to the Chargers in the first round of the sectional last year and did so, advancing to play in the sectional championship game for the first time since 2003.
The victory would served as the second step in the Cougars' quest to win the a sectional championship for the first time since 1990.
Weather played a major factor in the game, as a steady rain the previous 20 hours left the playing field a muddy mire, and the rain continued until the middle of the third quarter of the game.
North Montgomery began the game by driving the ball down the field, using 14 consecutive running plays before scoring on a 19-yard pass play with 2:56 showing on the clock, but the Chargers' attempt at a two-point conversion failed, giving North Montgomery a 6-0 lead over the visitors.
Two minutes and 25 seconds later, the Cougars answered on their first possession of the game, with Adam Vondersaar running the ball six consecutive times, the final time, a 31-yard gallop through the North Montgomery defense and the mud, to score the first points of the game for North Putnam.
Brayden Dahlstrom kicked the extra point, giving the Cougars a lead that they would not relinquish the rest of the game, 7-6.
The weather and each teams' defenses won the second quarter, as neither team was able to score any points and gained little yardage on offense.
Both teams went to the locker room at halftime with the Cougars holding a narrow 7-6 advantage.
North Putnam stormed out of the locker room, received the kick at the start of the second half, and drove the ball down the field 59 yards in five plays to score again, in what would be the final points of the game.
Vondersaar carried the ball five times in the drive, and Dahlstrom hit Shane Diebold with a 43-yard pass, in what would turn out to be the only pass of the game for the Cougars.
Vondersaar ended the drive by scoring his second touchdown of the game with 9:14 left in the third quarter on a three-yard run. The extra point kick narrowly missed, but North Putnam held a 13-6 advantage.
The muddy conditions on the field would be the winner of the rest of the game, as neither team could generate any points, allowing the Cougars to advance to the Sectional final game next week.
The Cougars won the game by generating 217 yards in total offense while their defense limited the Chargers to 159 yards.
"Our defense only gave up six points," Cougar head coach Dave Pasch said following the game. "For these conditions, you try to simplify everything and take care of the ball. So often in the playoffs, playing under these conditions, it comes down to who makes the least amount of mistakes."
Vondersaar gained 176 yards on 29 carries to lead the Cougars in rushing and Griffen Dahlstrom followed with 22 yards on seven carries.
As a team, North Putnam gained 174 rushing yards compared to North Montgomery's 140 yards on the ground.
North Putnam passed for 43 yards compared to North Montgomery's 19 yards.
The Cougars (11-0, 6-0 WCC) host Cascade next Friday night in the Championship game of the Class 2A Sectional 29. The game begins at 7 p.m.
At North Montgomery
North Putnam 7 0 6 0 - 13
North Montgomery 6 0 0 0 - 6
North Montgomery -- German to Stamper 19 pass (Pass failed) 2:56
North Putnam -- Vondersaar 31 run (B. Dahlstrom kick) 0:22
North Putnam -- Vondersaar 3 run (Kick failed) 9:14
First Downs -- North Putnam (13), North Montgomery (10)
Punts-Yards - North Putnam (3-104), North Montgomery (2-82)
Fumbles-Lost - North Putnam (4-2), North Montgomery (3-2)
Penalties-Yards - North Putnam (0-0), North Montgomery (4-35)
North Putnam (11-0, 6-0 WCC):
Rushing - (40 Carries, 174 yards) -- Vondersaar 29-176, G. Dahlstrom 7-22, B. Dahlstrom 4-(-24).
Passing - (1-1-0-0, 43 yards) -- B. Dahlstrom 1-1, 43 yds., 0 TD, 0 INT.
Receiving - (1 catches, 43 yards) -- Diebold 1-43.
North Montgomery (8-3, 5-2 SC):
Rushing - (40 Carries, 140 yards) -- Carpenter 24-95, Myers 10-42, German 6-3.
Passing - (1-9-1-1, 19 yards) -- German 1-9, 19 yds., 1 TD, 1 INT.
Receiving - (1 catches, 19 yards) -- Stamper 1-19.
Next Game -- The Cougars (11-0, 6-0 WCC) host Cascade next Friday night in the Championship game of the Class 2A, Sectional 29. The game begins at 7 p.m.