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Thursday, May 5, 2016

North Putnam disarms Warriors to take 40-6 win

Saturday, September 17, 2011

North Putnam senior Hank Spencer (shown here against South Putnam) rushed for 156 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns against Danville Friday. [Order this photo]
DANVILLE -- One streak had to come to an end Friday night when North Putnam made their first trip to Danville in eight years.

The Cougars had not lost a regular season game for nearly two full years. Danville, meanwhile, hadn't even bothered to entertain what a defeat to North Putnam would be like, as the Warriors hadn't lost to North Putnam in more than fifteen years.

The answer would be known before half of the first quarter was over as the visitors scored three times in the opening 5:34 in a 40-6 win over the Warriors.

North Putnam wasted little time in finding the end zone as their fifth play from scrimmage ended with six points. Hank Spencer took a handoff straight through the middle of the Warrior defense for 49 yards and an early lead.

After forcing a three-and-out, Jake Smerage nearly took the ensuing punt in for six yards. His 52-yard return was halted at the Danville three-yard line, from where Spencer walked in for six more points to increase the lead to 13-0.

Danville then fumbled the following kickoff, which was recovered by North's Devon Thrasher. Three plays later, Spencer was in the end zone again after a seven-yard run to extend the lead to 20-0, scoring his third touchdown 24 seconds after the previous score.

Another three-and-out from the hosts was punished nine plays later, with the aerial route being the preferred route for the Cougars.

Kolten Everts connected only twice on the drive, but the 59 yards gained from them were enough for six after his 39-yard strike to Smerage caught Danville flat-footed and gave the Cougars a 26-0 lead.

Things got hairy from there as Danville, battered by the offensive explosion, lost their next three possession on downs.

The Cougars, seemingly content with the early barrage, failed to capitalize as they fumbled the ball away twice and had a Danville punt touched by two different players, but watched as the Warriors recovered.

North did have some success, as they added a fifth score after Everts hit Jake Haste for a seven-yard score to make the lead 33-0.

The Cougars would end their scoring late in the third quarter when Everts kept on an option play and went 40 yards down the left, freezing one defender while evading several others to extend the lead to 40-0.

Danville finally got a score on the ensuing possession after starting off with a 40-yard kick return. Six plays later, from the North Putnam 34, Scott Amor found Nick Thurston in the middle of the Cougar defense and the senior running back did the rest for the score.

It then became a case of grinding down the clock for the Cougars, who utilized reserve players to grind out the final minutes and nearly add one final score when Trevor Smith was corralled three yards short of the end zone.

It was a satisfying win for the Cougars and head coach Brian Crabtree, in a game where the only things stopping the Cougars were themselves and a hole in front of the Cougar sideline. Repair work on the gap delayed the game, though Crabtree thought his quad handled the wait well.

"There was a little worry. Them working on the sideline didn't kill the momentum for us. It wasn't ideal, but we didn't lose anybody to it, so it was alright," Crabtree said.

While the Cougars looked unstoppable in the first quarter, they lost some steam in the second, a quirk of having jumped out to such a big lead.

"I don't think it was a lack of effort, but maybe a lack of focus. When you jump up four scores that quick, that's a concern. People will ask, 'Are you going to stay focused?'," Crabtree said.

"We had a couple of turnovers, had penalties creep in, the punt. We have to continue to maintain the effort all the way through four quarters."

With the history stacked against the Cougars so heavily, expectations might have weighed down the squad. Crabtree noted that weight belonged to Danville.

"I think the psychology effected them more than us. These kids only know the Danville program that's struggled recently whereas Danville only knows the program that's struggled earlier," Crabtree said.

The weight carried by the Cougars, though, was one that Crabtree said was a willing load.

"The coolest thing about this was playing for the community. We heard all week from a lot of alumni and everybody else how big this was and we took a real sense of pride, carrying the community on our back and rewriting history against a storied program like Danville," Crabtree said.

With the win, and pending Saturday's result, next week's contest against Greencastle is one where the WCC title could be at stake. Crabtree said the Cougars would be up to the challenge.

"Greencastle's just outstanding this year. They are on a new level. It's going to be a heck of a ball game," Crabtree said.

"I think the key is that they're going to try to line-up and throw the ball. We're going to need to defend the pass and control the line of scrimmage on offense to do what we want to do."

At Danville

North Putnam 26 7 6 0 -- 40

Danville 0 0 6 0 -- 6


1st Quarter

NP -- 10:03 Spencer 49-yard run (XP no good) 0-6

NP -- 7:50 Spencer 3-yard run (Freund kick) 0-13

NP -- 7:26 Spencer 7-yard run (Freund kick) 0-20

NP -- Smearge 39-yard pass from Everts (XP no good) 0-26

2nd Quarter

NP -- 1:26 Haste 7-yard pass from Everts (Freund kick) 0-33

3rd Quarter

NP -- 3:18 Everts 40-yard run (Freund kick) 0-40

D -- 0:57 Thurston 39-yard pass from Amor (XP no good) 6-40

Next Game: North Putnam travels to Greencastle Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff.