SPEEDWAY -- Speedway left the WCC in 2009, yet North Putnam has managed to find a way to play their Indianapolis rivals in every year since then, winning the last three meetings in a row.
Friday night, the schools met again in the opening round of IHSAA Class 2A Sectional No. 30.
After keeping the Sparkplugs at bay for 23:30 of the first half, a fumble recovered for a touchdown and two second half scores saw the hosts advance at the expense of the Cougars 21-6.
Speedway drove down to the North Putnam nine yard line on its opening drive, only to draw a penalty and negative yardage on the next three plays, leading to a missed 33-yard field goal by Melanie McHenry.
North Putnam gained a first down before punting away to the Sparkplugs to end the first quarter. Speedway again drove deep into North Putnam territory before quarterback Austin Angela threw an interception to Beau Green in the end zone.
The Cougars began to drive and were approaching midfield before Jake Haste returned the favor to the Sparkplugs by firing a pick to John Lamb.
Speedway looked to drive again in Cougar territory but after reaching the Cougar 22, Angela was again intercepted by Green to snuff out another scoring opportunity.
But North Putnam made a fatal mistake two plays later after Haste mishandled a shotgun snapped, attempted to run with the ball and fumbled it away.
The ball bounced around, was picked up by a Speedway player, fumbled again and eventual recovered in the Cougar end zone by Speedway's Nathan Lowery for a score with :27 seconds left in the first half.
North Putnam's turnover woes continued immediately in the second half as Jameson Brewer coughed the ball up four plays into the third quarter.
The Cougar defense held firm, however, and forced a turnover on downs that set up the visitors' lone score of the game.
A pair of long Haste runs put North Putnam well into Speedway territory and on a 4th and 10, Haste hit Green with a 27-yard pass to bring the Cougars within one after a bad snap on the extra point.
Speedway's offense again was bogged down by the North Putnam defense and for the second straight possession gave the ball away on downs.
But just as it looked like the Cougars might have some momentum going, another fumble, this time by Green, set up the Sparkplugs deep in North Putnam territory and two plays later, Josh Manion rumbled in from 20 yards out to make it a 14-6 game.
North Putnam failed to convert on a fourth down on their next possession and Speedway added their final score five plays later on a five-yard Devin Gude run.
The Cougar offense could not find a way to get going again, losing its final three possessions to downs and two more turnovers, cementing Speedway's first win over North Putnam since 2008.
North Putnam head coach Greg Barrett said that the squad, with better execution, would have been right there at the end.
"Our defense played outstanding tonight. It was their best game of the season. They played nasty football but did it in a classy way. We're proud of the way they played," Barrett said.
"It's a heartbreaking loss. This was probably one of the best games of the year for us. We gave them that touchdown right before the half and sometimes that's the way the ball drops."
"We didn't have the luck sometimes that we'd like to have had this year. We know what it's like to be lucky every once and awhile," Barrett added.
"But the competed well. They fought hard and the battled their butts off tonight."
After giving up the late fumble for a score, Barrett said the squad didn't get discouraged and continued to play well.
"If anything, it might have changed their mindset into 'Here we go again' but instead, they responded well. We moved the ball, even after we turned the ball over early," Barrett said.
"It's something we've had to deal with a lot this year but I'm proud of the way they fought. Speedway's a good team and we played extremely well against them. They've put a lot of points on a lot of teams."
"I thought the team prepared well this week. We had too many mishaps tonight and that's what hurt us."
Barrett said that the offseason promises to be one of hard work to rebuild the squad back into a winning outfit.
"We've got to do a much better job in the weight room. Games are won and lost there and we'll get it back to where it was," Barrett said.
"I consider us an elite program in the state. Those programs know that no matter the down or distance, the situation or the scoreboard, those teams are going to come out on top."
Barrett also took time to remember the departing seniors, who after three years of great success ended their careers are a slightly disappointing, but no less important note.
"These guys leave behind tradition but also the realization that life doesn't always pan out like we'd like it to. They've been fortunate and very successful," Barrett said.
"A lot of times, they refer to the Jimmies and the Joes. We've had a lot of good talent but many of the starters were new this year."
"If you take away Eric Davis, a three year starter, they were all new. Putting these guys together meant they had to step up and become men real quick," Barrett added.
"That was our process this year. I think they left a legacy that they can pass on down and that's how a team keeps tradition."
Class 2A Sectional No. 30
North Putnam 0 0 6 0 -- 6
Speedway 0 7 7 7 -- 21
S -- 0:27 Lowery fumble recovery (McHenry kick) 7-0
NP -- 5:54 Green 27-yard pass from Haste (XP no good) 7-6
S -- 0:26 Manion 20-yard run (McHenry kick) 14-6
S -- 7:21 Gude 5-yard run (McHenry kick) 21-6
Rushing -- NP 32-81 -- Haste 11-47, Green 10-21, Belcher 5-16, Brewer 5-(-1), Day 1-(-2); S 39-119 -- Gude 19-61, TD, Manion 11-37, TD, Angela 5-(-9), Furlow 2-27, Ross 1-3, Hall 1-0
Passing -- NP -- Haste 6-10-84, 2 INT, TD; Brewer 0-1-0; S -- Angela 8-15-108, 2 INT
Receiving -- NP -- Brewer 3-20, Green 1-27 TD, Day 1-26, Belcher 1-11; S -- Brent 3-35, Jones 2-52, Ahrens 1-15, Lamb 1-6, Manion 1-3