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Friday, May 6, 2016

Eagles explode in 4th to defeat Cougars

Monday, September 10, 2012

Weather postponed the Friday night clash between North Putnam and South Putnam until Saturday evening.

What the weather couldn't prevent was a back and forth game that ended in spectacular style for the host Eagles as they piled up 21 points in the final five minutes to defeat the Cougars 34-20.

Play resumed with 10:30 remaining in the second quarter, the teams tied a 7-7 and with South Putnam facing third and eight.

Both sides swapped a possession and South Putnam punted on their second possession, pinning North Putnam on their own two-yard line.

The Cougars could not break out and the punt and return that followed set the hosts up on the North Putnam 14-yard line.

Three plays and a facemask penalty later, Eagle quarterback Sawyer Arnold snuck in from two yards out to give the home side a 13-7 lead, but the extra point was blocked by North Putnam's Tyler Lamb.

A decent kick return saw the Cougars start on their own 40-yard line with two minutes to go in the half. Trevor Smith completed five passes to get North Putnam deep into South Putnam territory, but was intercepted by Justin Bumgardner to end the half.

The hosts started the second half with possession but punted away and would not see the ball for another five minutes.

North Putnam drove 73 yards on eight pays, including a 28-yard pass play to Jake Haste, and scored on an 11-yard pass from Smith to Jameson Brewer that tied the game when Taylor Zaring's extra point sailed wide.

The hosts were then lucky not to give the ball back straight away as Arnold was picked off by Tyler Land, only for the play to be negated by a pass interference call.

South Putnam did give the ball back four plays later on downs after Arnold was stuffed on a fourth down sneak.

North Putnam again hammered out a touchdown drive, this time using 10 plays and nearly six minutes of clock before Austin Day ran in from 6 yards out to give the visitors a 20-13 lead.

Wes Riner returned the following kickoff into Cougar territory but three plays later the Eagles punted away and North Putnam looked ready to finish the game off.

Four plays later, however, Smith, in an attempt to gain a first down, lost the ball and South Putnam's Joe Waters recovered to set the Eagles up deep in North Putnam territory.

The hosts promptly went to Lucas Lorian seven times in the next nine plays and the sophomore running back finished the drive with a one-yard plunge to knot the game at 20-20.

North Putnam moved close to midfield on its next possession but punted with three minutes remaining, pinning the Eagles back on their own 28.

The game saw its marquee moment unfold on the next play.

Arnold faked a handoff to Lorian and ran left, only to be met in the backfield by two North Putnam defenders.

Arnold, however, spun out of the tackle, worked his way back across the field, got to the corner and outran everyone on the field for a 72-yard touchdown that gave the Eagles the lead for good at 27-20.

The Cougars, now with two and a half minutes to go, picked up a pair of first downs but before they crossed midfield Smith again lost the handle on the ball, with Waters again on the spot to recover.

South Putnam scored two plays later when Lorian burst through the right side of the Eagle line for a 29-yard score that put the Eagles up 34-20.

North Putnam's last gasp drive ended when Bumgardner recorded his second pick of the night to seal a frantic five minutes of play and give the Eagles their first regular season win over the Cougars since 2005.

South Putnam head coach Troy Burgess hailed the effort of the squad and his coaching staff.

"If there's one way to sum this all up, it's about our players and our assistant coaches. Our players did a tremendous job of maintaining their composure, believing in each other and what the coaches asked them to do," Burgess said.

"They could have folded when they were down 20-13 in the fourth quarter but they didn't. They kept up the fight and I'm so proud of them and the tremendous job they did."

Burgess said the momentum swung because the Eagle defense was up to the challenge in the final quarter.

"Wes [Riner] had a great return after they scored and got us in good position, but give North Putnam credit. Coach Barrett and their kids were ready and they stopped us to get the football back," Burgess said.

"We hang our hat on our defense and they created those turnovers by plugging along and responding to what Coach [Nathan] Aker is asking them to do and they did the job for us tonight.

"The kids never quit. They played for 48 minutes against a first-class organization. Coach Barrett does a tremendous job at North Putnam and it is fun for us right now because we came out on top over a very good football team," Burgess added.

North Putnam head coach Greg Barrett said that turnovers cost his side against South Putnam.

"I think South came out a lot faster than we did. I thought we would come out ready to go but we figured it out eventually," Barrett said.

"Tonight boils down to turnovers. We had too many turnovers and you can't play good teams, turn the ball over and expect them not to capitalize on them. That's what did us in."

After the slow start, Barrett said the squad came out better in the second half.

"We came in at halftime and made some adjustments on how we were going to block some things. We responded well and ran some things well as passed the ball well," Barrett said.

"But the turnovers killed the momentum. I think every time we turned the ball over they scored. They got momentum and we lost the momentum we had.

"I'm proud of these guys. They didn't let up; they kept fighting and played with great effort tonight. Coach Burgess had South Putnam ready and they're a very well coached football team," Barrett added.

North Putnam hosts Danville next Friday and Barrett said that staying the course was the way forward.

"We've got to get better at not turning the ball over. Our run game needs to be a little bit better and we need to keep doing the things we do," Barrett said.

"We need to keep getting better at those things each week and each night. We put the ball on the ground too many times tonight and that cost us."

South Putnam travels to Greencastle Friday for a much-anticipated showdown with the Tiger Cubs.

Burgess said that the squad has to eliminate silly mistakes against a squad of Greencastle's caliber.

"Greencastle has got a great football team. Coach [Josh] Buis does a wonderful job and has them going strong. For us to compete with them, we've got to be able to tackle better and defend the pass better." Burgess said.

"We've also got to quit shooting ourselves in the foot on offense. We can't afford silly false starts and other penalties. We need to work on our own passing game a little bit."

"We can't make mistakes because Greencastle will make us pay if we do."

At South Putnam

North Putnam 7 0 6 7 -- 20

South Putnam 7 6 0 21 -- 34

First Quarter

SP -- 10:16 Lorian 33-yard run (Yon kick) 7-0

NP -- 0:27 Belcher 9-yard pass from Smith (Zaring kick) 7-7

Second Quarter

SP -- 2:01 Arnold 2-yard run (XP blocked) 13-7

Third Quarter

NP -- 6:10 Brewer 11-yard pass from Smith (XP no good) 13-13

4th Quarter

NP -- 11:53 Day 6-yard run (Zaring kick)

SP -- 5:00 Lorian 1-yard run (Yon kick) 20-20

SP -- 2:38 Arnold 72-yard run (Yon kick) 27-20

SP -- 1:39 Lorian 29-yard run (Yon kick) 34-20

Individual Stats

Rushing

NP -- Belcher 19-85, Day 10-69, Smith 5-0, Green 3-3, Murray 1-3; SP -- Lorian 30-181, 3 TD; Arnold 9-74, 2 TD

Passing

NP -- Smith 19-26-171, 2 TD, 2 INT; SP -- Arnold 1-5-9

Receiving

NP -- Brewer 9-78, TD, Haste 6-73, Belcher 2-17, TD, Day 1-19, Murray 1-(-1); SP -- Bumgardner 1-9

Next game: North Putnam hosts Danville and South Putnam travels to Greencastle next Friday.