Cougars overcome turnovers in win
CLOVERDALE — Four second-half turnovers put the North Putnam Cougars in some bad-looking situations, but their defense held strong in a 27-9 win over their county rival Cloverdale Clovers.
Four passing touchdowns from Cougar senior Hayden Rudes was all it took as fellow senior Gage Bell caught three of those. Junior Chris Murray caught the fourth. Rudes threw for 250 yards on the night.
Cloverdale (1-4 1-1 WIC East) got on the board first when Tyce Jackson ran it in from a yard out late in the first quarter, but the extra-point attempt was blocked. The score was set up by a long ball of 51 yards from junior quarterback Parker Watts to senior wide receiver Nick Winders.
The Cougars (2-3 1-1 WIC West) answered 93 seconds later when Rudes found Bell from 51 yards out for a 7-6 lead.
Big plays set up both teams on early drives and another 44-yard pass from Watts to junior Jake Wilkes led to a 29-yard Trey Henry field goal that gave the Clovers their final lead of the game at 9-7.
“With our receivers Jake Wilkes and Nick Winders, I believe in those guys,” Clover coach Tom Winders said. “If the ball goes up in the air I know they’re going to go after it.”
On the first play of the ensuing Cougar possession Rudes found Bell again for a 60-yard touchdown.
Bell scored his final touchdown of the evening with 45 seconds left in the first half on a 20-yard completion.
He had 149 receiving yards for the night on four catches and he also had 83 rush yards.
That late touchdown gave the Cougars momentum and they had the ball to start the second half. They were marching down the field when Henry intercepted Rudes to give his team good starting field position at its own 36.
North Putnam put its defense out on the field and the Cougars did their job, forcing a three-and-out and a punt.
Henry punted the ball 33 yards, but it was muffed by senior return man Jake Scott. Wilkes recovered for the Clovers and gave his team a second chance in Cougar territory.
The Clover offense only went backward, losing 37 yards on the drive, forcing another punt. Scott muffed the punt again, but luckily, a Cougar found his way on the ball.
Another prayer was answered for the Clovers as Rudes fumbled the snap on the first play and a Clover fell on it. The Clovers still shot themselves in the foot, losing over 20 yards on that possession and being forced to punt.
A great punt by Henry pushed the Cougars inside their own five-yard line. The Clovers forced their fourth straight turnover when Dillon Binnion was stripped after a 19-yard completion.
“It says we got a lot of heart (about forcing turnovers),” Winders said. “That’s what frustrating. I know they’re trying their best. Them boys are playing with everything they got.”
Turning the ball over on downs was all the Clovers could manage. They could not keep the ball moving on the ground to sustain any drives and Cougar defenders surrounded Watts on every pass. The Clovers had 34 rushes for 45 yards.
The Cougars put one more score up on the board late in the game when Rudes threw his fourth TD pass of the night from 45 yards out to Murray.
North Putnam 7 13 0 7—27
Cloverdale 6 3 0 0—9
C—Jackson 1-yd run (kick blocked) 2:44 Q1 6-0
NP—Bell 51-yd completion from Rudes (Bell kick) 1:11 Q1 7-6
C—Henry 29-yd field goal 9:30 Q2 9-7
NP—Bell 60-yd completion from Rudes (Bell kick no good) 4:13 Q2 13-9
NP—Bell 20-yd completion from Rudes (Schmidt kick) 45.1 Q2 20-9
NP—Murray 45-yd completion from Rudes (Schmidt kick) 4:38 Q4 27-9
Rushing — North Putnam (32-159): Bell 11-83, Murray 11-59, Rudes 5-17, Baker 5-0.Cloverdale (34-45 TD): Jackson 15-23, Winders 6-22, Abner 4-8, Smith 3-1, Watts 6-(-9).
Passing — North Putnam: Rudes 10-18 250 4TD, INT. Cloverdale: Watts 8-23 147 INT.
Receiving — North Putnam: Bell 4-149 3TD, Alexander 3-35, Murray 1-45 TD, Binnion 1-19, Upleger 1-2. Cloverdale: Winders 3-73, Wilkes 2-68, Abner 2-3, Smith 1-3.