Cougars overcome own demons to edge West Vigo

Saturday, September 29, 2018

BAINBRIDGE — The North Putnam Cougars overcame some adversity and picked up a 26-20 victory over the West Vigo Vikings in a Western Indiana Conference high school football game Friday night.

The Cougars improved to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the WIC as they squandered a 20-0 lead, but were able to pick up the victory using a balanced offense and some key defensive stops late. West Vigo fell to 2-5 and 1-3 in conference play.

“We got the stops late. We were able to make the tackle on their hook and ladder play late,” North Putnam head coach Sam Carnes said.

North Putnam picked up 197 yards through the air as Evan Davies went 11-of-24 with two touchdown passes and an interception. The Cougars were able to run the ball as well as they totaled 134 yards on the ground.

“Evan does a nice job of running the ball and then dropping back when we need to,” Carnes said. “We were able to run the middle, then when they stopped that, we were able to go outside.”

North looked like it was going to run away with the game early. The Cougars scored on their second possession as they drove 63 yards in 10 plays with Chris Murray picking up 45 yards on the ground, including a 5-yard touchdown run. Elliot Sabens added the PAT to take a 7-0 lead.

Less than two minutes later, Davies went to the air as he connected with Colton Clifford on a 58-yard scoring strike and the Cougars led 14-0 heading into the second quarter.

North took advantage of a Viking turnover early in the second quarter. Jordan Pope picked off a Dane Andrews pass and the Cougars went up 20-0 on a Davies to Scott Proctor 15-yard touchdown pass.

It was a good thing that the Cougars established the lead because the momentum switched to the Vikings on the next possession. A Viking punt hit the leg of a Cougar and West Vigo took over at North Putnam 21-yard line. Matt Berkley was able to score from two yards out and West Vigo had cut the lead to 20-6.

North made a mistake on their next possession as they had their punt blocked and gave West Vigo a short field again. The Vikings took advantage and drove 30 yards to score on an Andrews one-yard run. Berkley added the two-point conversion and North led 20-14 with two minutes left in the half.

West Vigo kept the momentum going as it intercepted Davies and drove inside the Cougar 20-yard line, but couldn’t score before the half.

“We really struggled when we lost the momentum in the second quarter. Tonight, we had some injuries and we had some kids really step up. R.J. Human and Brayden Poole had to come in and play some of their first varsity minutes,” Carnes said.

The Cougars fumbled the ball on their first possession of the second half as a screen pass was called a backward pass and the Vikings immediately took advantage a four play drive to tie the score at 20-20 on a Berkley six-yard run.

The Cougars settled down on their next possession and drove 63 yards to score on Aidan Baker’s one-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter. The PAT kick failed, but the Cougars led 26-20.

West Vigo fumbled the kickoff and gave the Cougars a chance to put the game away, but North couldn’t capitalize and both teams traded possessions throughout the remainder of the game.

North had to overcome three turnovers, 13 penalties for 107 yards, including three unsportsmanlike calls and a blocked punt, but the were able to pick up the victory.

“This was not what North Putnam football is all about. The penalties and mistakes must be corrected and that is on me,” Carnes said.

The Cougars play a big game next week with both conference and county implications. North will host Greencastle with Putnam County Bucket and championship on the line.

In addition, the winner of the game could take second place in the western division of the WIC depending upon the outcomes of other games.

West Vigo01413740
North Putnam1460816

First quarter

NP – Chris Murray 5 run (Elliot Sabens kick), 7-0 4:10.

NP – Colton Clifford 58 pass from Evan Davies (Sabens kick), 14-0, 2:23.

Second quarter

NP – Scott Proctor 15 pass from Davies (kick failed), 20-0, 8:56.

WV – Matt Berkley 2 run (pass failed), 20-6, 6:22.

WV – Dane Andrews 1 run (Berkley run), 20-14, 2:02.

Third quarter

WV – Berkley 6 run (run failed), 20-20, 4:06.

Fourth quarter

NP – Aidan Baker 1 run (kick failed), 26-20, 11:56.

First downs1618
Rushes-yards45-152 34-134
Passing Yards45197
Passing4-11-1 11-24-1
Total offense56-19758-331

Individual statistics

Rushing – West Vigo: Braxton Gabbard 8-89, Matt Berkley 16-166, Jarrell Sholar 8-35, Kyle McCalister 1-3, Dane Andrews 12-(-41). North Putnam: Chris Murray 11-69, Evan Davies 13-36, Aiden Baker 9-34, Kolton Thorson 1-(-5).

Passing – West Vigo: Andrews 4-11-1 45. North Putnam: Davies 11-24-1 197.

Receiving – West Vigo: Alden Fuller 3-34, Brandon Stroud 1-11. North Putnam: Kevin Barger 3-42, Colton Clifford 2-73, Lucius Alexander 3-36, Scott Proctor 1-15, Chris Murray 2-31.

Next game: North Putnam (5-2) will host county rival Greencastle (6-1) next Friday for a Western Indiana Conference game.