SPEEDWAY -- The North Putnam Cougars' football team just keeps on rolling.
North Putnam remained undefeated, improving its record to 13-0 after a 23-18 victory over Speedway in Friday night's regional championship.
The Cougars came from behind to win for the second consecutive week.
NPHS trailed the Sparkplugs 18-17 late in the fourth quarter, when the Cougars marched the ball 48 yards downfield before Adam Vondersaar carried it into the endzone from one yard out with 6:05 remaining in the game to put North Putnam on top.
"This was an everybody game," NPHS coach Dave Pasch said. "Everybody in a white shirt did his part tonight. We were very balanced, I thought."
North Putnam started the game with a 72-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brayden Dahlstrom to Jarrett Ban on its first possession.
Dahlstrom ended the night with 272 passing yards, going 11-for-17 in the air.
Speedway struck back, though, when senior quarterback Adam Walton nailed an 11-yard field goal to put the Sparkplugs on the board, 7-3 with 4:20 to go in the first quarter.
Just more than one minute later, the Sparkplugs managed to take Dahlstrom down in the endzone on a kickoff return to earn a safety, making it a 7-5 contest.
But North Putnam dominated the second quarter.
Dahlstrom got things started with a nine-yard field goal with 8:41 to go in the second quarter and finished the first half off with a 36-yard touchdown pass to Jake Mullis with 45.4 seconds to go, taking the Cougars into the halftime break with a 17-5 advantage.
Speedway wasn't about to go away, though, getting back on the scoreboard with 1:57 to go in the third when Trai Jones ran for a one-yard touchdown. Walton's extra-point attempt was good, and the Sparkplugs were within five, 17-12.
In the fourth quarter, Speedway took its first lead of the game when Calvin Harris ran for an 18-yard touchdown with 10:39 to go in the game, putting the Sparkplugs ahead, 18-17.
But the Cougars sealed the deal on Vondersaar's game-winning run and will now advance to its first semistate appearance in 16 years.
"We all know that we're going to have to get better as a football team," Pasch said. "If we still want to be playing football come Thanksgiving, we know that we have to keep getting better. The competition's going to get tougher, so we have to as well."
Although it was Vondersaar who scored the Cougars' final touchdown of the night and sealed the victory, Dahlstrom was clearly in command of the NPHS offense Friday.
Despite two interceptions on the night, Dahlstrom threw for 171 yards more than he did in the Cougars' 34-33 victory over Cascade in last week's sectional championship.
"Great teams have great players," Pasch said. "We're probably ought to name a play the 'ad-lib,' because that's what Brayden's doing out there a lot of the time.
"He's one of a handful of really great players we have on this team, and he's a big part of the reason we're still playing."
Dahlstrom wasn't the only Cougar to be active on the offensive end, though. NPHS tallied 437 total yards on the night, including 165 on the ground.
The Cougars and their fans were celebrating after the victory, but Pasch said that the party won't last long.
North Putnam will face 11-2 Southridge in the semistate round next week.
"Starting tomorrow, it's just getting back to business as usual," Pasch said. "We're going to approach this week the same way that we approached last week and that's we'll start the week at 0-0 and hope to end it at 1-0."
The Cougars and the Raiders will play next week at North Putnam on a date to be determined.
North Putnam 7 10 0 6 -- 23
Speedway 5 0 7 6 -- 18
North Putnam -- Ban 72 pass from B. Dahlstrom (Dahlstrom kick) 9:37
Speedway -- Walton 11 field goal 4:20
Speedway -- Safety 3:17
North Putnam -- B. Dahlstrom 9 field goal 8:41
North Putnam -- Mullis 36 pass from B. Dahlstrom (Dahlstrom kick) :45.4
Speedway -- Jones 1 run (Walton kick) 1:57
Speedway -- Harris 18 run (pass failed) 10:39
North Putnam -- Vondersaar 1 run (run failed) 6:05
First Downs -- North Putnam 14, Speedway 12
Passing Yards -- North Putnam 272, Speedway 182
Rushing Yards -- North Putnam 165, Speedway 107
Total Yards -- North Putnam 437, Speedway 289
North Putnam -- B. Dahlstrom 11-17-2-272
Speedway -- Walton 13-29-0-182
North Putnam -- Rooker 7-2, B. Dahlstrom 3-15, Vondersaar 16-89, G. Dahlstrom 4-24
Speedway -- Harris 11-58, Jones 8-33, Thompson 1-9, Linville 2-27, Walton 1-(-2)
Next Game -- The Cougars (13-0) will face Southridge next week, with date and time to be determined.