North Putnam’s Carnes celebrates birth of daughter with big win over Vikings
WEST TERRE HAUTE — North Putnam coach Sam Carnes must have been feeling plenty blessed as he sent in the Cougars’ final play Friday night.
Leading West Vigo 28-21 and facing a fourth-and-seven with 28.7 seconds remaining, Carnes must have been feeling pretty fortunate as he called a fake punt run for punter James Upleger.
And why not? Earlier in the day Carnes and wife Caitlin welcomed their first child into the world.
So of course Upleger went for 16 yards on the final play.
The Cougars (3-4, 2-2 WIC) picked up a quality win over an opponent with a winning record (4-3, 2-2 WIC) and moved into third in the WIC West.
Additionally, Carnes was free to get back to his family and get some rest.
“I feel blessed every day with the wife I have,” Carnes laughed. “But the kids executed that play well all week and for several weeks. We knew that we could get it if we did it right.”
The game was much more than trick plays, though. Despite the Vikings dominating the time of possession, and running 26 more plays for 102 more yards, the Cougars were opportunistic.
A Zach Culberson first-quarter interception took away what looked like a Viking touchdown drive and reversed the field with a 73-yard return.
Then late in the third quarter, it was linebacker Jake Powell who scooped a fumble and returned it to the Viking three. The play set up quarterback Hayden Rudes’ second rushing touchdown of the day, a 3-yard scamper that gave the Cougars a 21-14 lead.
“We have not won the turnover battle in a single game all year,” Carnes said. “We got a fumble on their side of the field and I thought that was outstanding, especially after I felt like lack of sleep caused me some bad judgment on some play calls.”
The Cougars have struggled to defend the pass all year, a fact that Carnes knows and the Vikings seemed to know. They surprised their home crowd by dropping back to pass nearly 40 times on Friday.
“Credit to them,” Carnes said of West Vigo. “They did a heck of a job attacking our defense.”
But the Cougars came through when they needed plays the most, both on the early interception and on a pass break-up by Lucius Alexander that ended the Vikings’ final threat with 3:16 remaining.
“DBs have been a point of emphasis since week one. We knew we were struggling at DB. We lost a great DB in June in Dylan Hess. We’ve gotten better every week at that spot.”
“Even in the game we made better plays. Linebackers weren’t getting outside on hitch routes at the beginning of the game and we fixed that. Then linebackers made big plays at the end of the game to stop that.”
Early in the game, it looked like it would be a track meet, with the Cougars going 69 yards on 12 plays to open the game with an Ethan Christy 1-yard run.
The Vikings looked like they would answer, driving 64 yards in 10 plays before Culberson’s interception. After the Cougar drive stalled, West Vigo went a 14-play, 96-yard drive punctuated by a 1-yard plunge from Dickie King.
In the second half, the Cougars used big plays to keep pace as the Viking passing game began to click.
A Rudes keeper went for 55 yards and a 14-7 lead with 7:58 to play in the third.
Then Viking quarterback Jake Lautenschlager found the explosive Logan Stevens for a 35-yard touchdown to even the game up with 4:46 to play in the third.
The Vikings’ next drive ended with Powell’s fumble recovery, followed by the Rudes 3-yard score.
West Vigo had one more scoring drive in its bag of tricks, this one ending when Lautenschlager found King for a three-yard touchdown pass and a 21-21 tie with 8:12 remaining.
However, with a tight game in the fourth quarter, the Cougars had the best weapon on the field in the 6-2, 205-pound Christy.
Carnes called the senior’s number three times on the next drive to the tune of 76 yards, the last 45 of which went for a TD and the final 28-21 score.
“It was good to see the boys run hard,” Carnes said. “We make some mistakes every now and then and Christy fixes those mistakes by running people over. That makes it easy.”
The senior carried 16 times for 83 yards and a pair of scores. Rudes added 14 runs for 79 yards and two more TDS.
After a close loss to a strong Northview team, Friday’s game made for a nice “prove-it” performance for the Cougars.
“We are getting better every week,” Carnes said. “We know we are not where we need to be. We know we have not reached our full potential and we are excited each week to get better. That’s what I love about this team and our coaches, that we’ve gotten better every week.”
The improvement needs to continue for the Cougars and the sleep-deprived Carnes as they look toward Greencastle next Friday..
“I’m ready for some sleep but there’s no rest for the wicked,” Carnes said. “We’ve got the boys in purple next week and we’re very excited for the opportunity.”
The Tiger Cubs (4-3, 1-3 WIC) host the Cougars in a 7 p.m. tilt to crown the county champion.
North Putnam 7 0 14 7 — 28
West Vigo 0 7 7 7 — 21
NP — Christy 1-yd run (Schmidt kick) 7-0, 6:22
WV — King 1-yd run (Beaver kick) 7-7, 4:50
NP—Rudes 55-yd run (Scmidt kick) 14-7, 7:58
WV — Stevens 35-yd pass from Lautenschlager (Beaver kick) 14-14, 4:46
NP — Rudes 3-yd run (Schmidt kick) 21-14, 1:44
WV — King 3-yd pass from Lautenschlager (Beaver kick) 21-21, 8:12
NP — Christy 45-yd run (Schmidt kick) 28-21, 5:22
First Downs 10 18
Rushes-yard 34-187 38-116
Passing yards 46 219
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-1
Passing 4-9 17-31
Penalties-yards 5-44 6-30
Punts-avg. 2-33 1-35
Rushing — North Putnam: Christy 16-93, Rudes 14-79, Upleger 1-16, Murray 2-2, Bell 1-(-6). West Vigo: Lautenschlager 10-47, King 8-26 Gabbard 11-16, Hannahs 3-12, Berkley 3-9, Shepard 2-6, McCalister 1-0.
Passing — North Putnam: Rudes 4-9 0 TD 46 yards. West Vigo: Lautenschlager 17-31 2 TDs 219 yards.
Receiving — North Putnam: Bell 2-31, Binnion 1-10, Alexander 1-5. West Vigo: Stevens 7-116, Hannahs 4-52, Berkley 2-20, Gabbard 1-14, Hamrick 1-7, Stroud 1-7, King 1-3.