Hard work pays off for North Putnam in win over Chargers
BAINBRIDGE -- North Putnam opened its 50th season of high school football Friday night with physical display of offense, defense and mental toughness in a 28-12 victory over the visiting North Montgomery Chargers.
Offensively, the Cougars rushed for 274 yards, led by Chris Murray with 147 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, North Putnam held the Chargers to just 111 yards of total offense, 67 on the ground. And mentally, North Putnam stood its ground when North Montgomery scored two quick touchdowns to open the second half.
"These kids fought hard and they've been working so hard. It's just good to see it pay off for them," second-year North Putnam coach Sam Carnes said.
North Putnam took a 14-0 lead in the opening quarter and held that until the opening kickoff of the second half. North Montgomery's Kai Warren broke free for a 74-yard touchdown run on the opening kickoff.
"Our defense played amazing. We held them to six (points) on defense. We gave up a stupid play on kickoff, special teams. We'll address that with the special teams coach on Monday," Carnes said, pointing to himself.
And then the Cougars had their worst offensive series of the night and the Chargers scored quickly again. But for the second time, North Putnam did not give up the two-point conversion and held a 14-12 lead.
"Of all the gutsy plays those guys (on defense) made, to stop the two-point conversion after giving up a quick 12, that's a huge play in this game to make it 14-12 instead of 14-14. That just shows how tough those kids are. I'm sure everybody in the building thought we were just going to give up, just let down and let (North Montgomery) win. These kids fight for everything because of how much they love each other," a very proud Carnes said.
North Putnam took the lead for good on its first series of the season. The first seven plays of the season were runs by Murray. He ran for 15, 35, six and finally four yards for the opening touchdown of the season behind an offensive line that was paving the a road to the end zone.
The second time North Putnam got the ball Murray ran for 25 yards then three and finally the Chargers stopped him once.
The Cougars got the ball for the third time with 5:40 left in the opening quarter. North Putnam grinded out an 85-yard, 15-play drive over 5 minutes and 22 seconds with Aidan Baker, Murray and quarterback Evan Davies carrying the load.
Davies scored on a two-yard run with 18 seconds left in the quarter. Elliot Sabens' second point after touchdown kick gave North Putnam a 14-0 halftime cushion.
It appeared North Putnam was in serious trouble when North Montgomery cut the margin two points, 14-12, early in the third period. Davies, making his first varsity start and playing well, was shaken up on a running play and went to the sideline for a couple of snaps.
That's when North Putnam's defense and special teams stepped up. Tanner Louk, a 6-4, 220-pound senior, dropped the Chargers' quarterback for an eight-yard loss and the secondary came within a finger tip of an interception instead off a pass break-up.
The Cougars took a 14-12 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Chargers intercepted a Davies pass, North Putnam's only turnover of the night. Plays by Luke Sanford and Payton Patterson stuffed the Chargers and forced a punt.
It never got off his foot.
While nobody seemed to know for sure who did what, coach Carnes said Kalib Lawrence blocked the punt and Blake Boyer recovered it for a touchdown with 9:37 to play. The tape will show what happened.
North Putnam put the contest away with 53 seconds left when Murray ran 12 yards for the Cougars' fourth touchdown.
NP -- Murray 4 run (Sabens kick), 7-0 10:21.
NP -- Davies 2 run (Sabens kick), 14-0, 0:18.
NM -- Warren 74 kickoff return (run failed), 14-6, 11:48.
NM -- Bradford 4 run (pass failed), 14-12, 8:27.
NP -- Blocked punt recovered (Sabens kick), 21-12, 9:37.
NP -- Murray 12 run (Sabens kick), 28-12, 0:53.
Rushing -- North Montgomery: Claycomb 11-52, Bradford 10-10, Waldon 1-5, Kobel 1-3, Fritzen 1-(-3). North Putnam: Murry 20-147, Baker 17-80, Davies 12-64, Summers 1-(-1), Proctor 2-(-4), Warren 1-(-12).
Passing -- North Montgomery: Bradford 10-18-0--44. North Putnam: Davies 5-12-1--36.
Receiving -- North Montgomery: Warren 4-23, Kobel 3-14, Fritzen 1-5, Carmean 1-4, Waldon 1-(-2). North Putnam: Warren 2-14, Proctor 1-11, Clifford 1-7, Thorson 1-4.
Next game: North Putnam (1-0) travels to Southmont next Friday.