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North Harrison's Austin Nevil, center, breaks up this Charlestown pass to Alex Smith (86) in the first half as Gary Blankenship flies in from behind. Photo by Wade Bell

Pirates cage Cougars in second half

September 18, 2013
The Charlestown Pirates came to North Harrison on Friday following a 68-0 win over Mid-Southern Conference opponent Clarksville the week before. After a lackluster first half, the Pirates charged in rally form at the Cougars for a 28-14 win. The loss dropped North Harrison to 1-3 for the season and 0-3 in the conference. Charlestown, meanwhile, improved to 2-2 overall and 2-1 in the MSC, behind Brownstown Central and Corydon Central.

"I think we're getting better," North Harrison coach Mark Williamson said. "They were flying high. They just beat Clarksville 68-0 last week. It was a huge step up for us. According to the Sagarin ratings, they were a 40-point favorite."

The Cougars started the game with an onside kick and recovered a Charlestown fumble at midfield. North Harrison gave up the ball later in the period, but the Pirates fumbled again on their first play.

North Harrison moved the ball to the 2-yard line by the end of the first period. On the first play of the second period, Sam Best got a yard for fourth-and-goal.

The Cougar offensive line made a big hole for quarterback Jack Phelps on the next play, allowing him to score. Phelps barely squeezed in the extra point as the Cougars took a 7-0 lead.

Charlestown had a chance to score at the end of the half, moving the ball down to the 7-yard-line. The Pirates came up short on a final pass play, and the Cougars went to the locker room with a 7-0 lead.

"They're not a real good passing team either, so we did the right things scheme-wise, but we're not good enough mental football players to be jumping around," Williamson said. "We need to stick with what we do to get better at what we do, because you try to change a little and then the mistakes are ending up what beats you. That's kind of what happened tonight."

Whatever the talk was at halftime, Charlestown came out a completely different team. North Harrison ran three plays after the kickoff return then saw its punt blocked with the ball resting on the North Harrison 32-yard-line.

Anthony Gaddle carried the ball to the 3-yard-line. A face-mask penalty moved the ball half the distance to the goal line. Darren Taylor carried the ball in and got the conversion for a Pirate 8-7 lead.

Charlestown didn't stop there. With 5:12 to go, Matt Myers scored from one yard after the Cougars were forced to give up the ball again.

North Harrison gave up the ball on their next possession. The Cougars then were called for pass interference moving the ball to the 50-yard-line. Eight plays later, Taylor moved the ball to the 5-yard line with no time showing on the clock. Officials, however, said there was time for one more play before the end of the third. Taylor got the call again and took the ball in to score for a 20-7 Charlestown lead after three quarters.

"Maybe Charlestown wasn't ready to play and coach (Jason) Hawkins woke them up over there," Williamson said. "Maybe that was the case."

North Harrison began its next possession with an illegal procedure penalty. Two plays later, Charlestown's Tate Boley intercepted a Jack Phelps pass on the 39-yard-line.

Chester threw to Eli Daniel to the 10-yard-line on the next play. Two plays later, Taylor had his third touchdown of the game, scoring from five yards. Chester converted to Hunter Grace for the conversion pass and a 28-7 lead.

Craig scored for the Cougars with 6:48 to go in the game on a 49-yard run.

The Cougars forced the Pirates to punt on their next possession. North Harrison, however, failed to get a drive going and gave up the ball on downs. Charlestown took a knee on the final play and took home the 28-14 win.

"We had things that bit us in the second half," Williamson said. "I'm not sure we have the ability as football players to focus for a full 48 minutes. We have immature things that happen on the field, mistake-wise, execution-wise.

"For an example, I told the (defensive backs) 15 yards off, and they let up a fade just like that. We were stopping the running game so-so, but we had to do things defensively that we normally don't do to stop the running game. That left them with being able to throw the ball."

"Our guys aren't quitting," the Cougar coach said. "They're sticking together. They're playing. They're believing. It's just going to take a while. You've got to change the culture a day at a time."


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