October 23, 2019Six feet.
That's how short the North Harrison Cougars came from sending their game Friday night into overtime against host Clarksville in a high-scoring affair that finished like a basketball score instead of a football game.
After struggling through the first half, the Cougars rallied from nearly three touchdowns down but fell short on their last play of the game as the Generals got a 62-60 Mid-Southern Conference win.
"The start of the game was about as bad as any football game, coached in any game, played in any game where you are getting the opening kickoff and they execute," said North Harrison coach Mark Williamson. "I'm not saying we did anything wrong. They executed the onside kick clearly."
The Generals made the onside kick work for them on the opener as they recovered the ball on the North Harrison 44-yard-line. On the next play, Robert Lamar ran 44 yards to score. An unsportsmanlike penalty following the touchdown moved the ball back to the 18. That didn't bother the Generals as Dae'von Fuqua made the conversion and Clarksville had a quick 8-0 lead.
The Generals went to the onside again on their next kickoff and again recovered. This time, however, the Cougars' defense held, forcing Clarksville to give the ball up on downs on the Clarksville 37. The Cougars ran a ground game on their possession and moved the ball to the red zone. Aaron Nevil drove the ball into the end zone on the 10th play of the game from eight yards out and got the conversion to even the score.
Clarksville scored again with less than 30 seconds to go in the period when Fuqua scored from five yards out but the conversion failed, keeping North Harrison within six at the end of the quarter.
At that point, the scoring became fast and furious. North Harrison's Jarrett Fenn scored less than four minutes into the second quarter on an 11-yard run, and Nevil got the conversion for a 16-14 Cougars' edge. With 6:54 to go in the half, Fuqua scored on an 11-yard run. With just under a minute to go in the half, Fuqua struck again, this time on a 27-yard run. The conversion failed, but the Generals took a 28-16 lead to the locker room at halftime.
"We knew they would (use the onside kick)," Williamson said. "We practiced against it for two weeks because we knew Crawford (County) wasn't going to play us."
Clarksville took the ball to start the second half and needed just three plays to score again, this time taking to the air as Keyshawn Minor threw to Marquis Forward for 49 yards and six more points. Minor threw to Lamar on the conversion, and the Generals' lead ballooned to 36-16.
The Cougars started their rally when Nevil scored on an 18-yard run on North Harrison's fifth play of the drive. Clarksville quickly scored again on just three plays as Fuqua posted six more from 44 yards. Minutes later, Fenn scored on a 21-yard run for the Cougars. Less than a minute after that, Fuqua ran 49 yards to score again, putting the score at 50-32 in Clarksville's favor.
It didn't slow down from there. The Cougars fell on Clarksville's squib kick and ran 10 plays to the end zone, putting North Harrison down 12, 50-38, at the end of the third quarter. At the beginning of the fourth, the Generals were forced to kick the ball away, and Nevil scored to close the gap to four, 50-46, with 9:49 to go.
Two minutes later, Minor reached the end zone on a 3-yard play, pushing Clarksville's lead back to 10, 56-46, with 7:57 left in the game. The Generals failed to get the conversion.
North Harrison kept going with its ground game and, with 5:11 left, Nevil scored and converted to close the gap to just two, 56-54.
Clarksville scrambled on its next possession, and, with just over two minutes to go, Fuqua scored his sixth TD of the game, this time from 35 yards. The Generals' lead was eight, 62-54, as the Generals failed on the conversion.
The Generals were called for offside on their kickoff and kicked again, but North Harrison's Colby Whittaker returned the ball to near midfield. Nevil ran the next four plays down to the 30-yard line, and North Harrison called timeout with 1:07 left.
Zachary Taylor ran the ball to the 16 on the next play for a first down. At that point, Fenn took the ball in from there, leaving the Cougars two points short of sending the game into overtime with 52.3 seconds left.
North Harrison went with their bulldozer again on the next play as Nevil took the ball. Clarksville, however, was ready on the goal-line stand and stopped the North Harrison junior six feet from the goal line. The Generals took a knee on the first play of their final possession and had the 62-60 win.
"They executed it nicely, got it, scored on the first play from the 50 (yard line), got a penalty, unsportsmanlike like, so their two-point conversion is from the 18-yard line," Williamson said. "Got it. Onside kick, did it. That's the worst start of any football game I've seen. We never could overcome it."
Nevil carried the ball 40 times for 337 yards rushing and five touchdowns, and Fenn finished with 146 yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns. The Cougars attempted two passes, both incompletions.
Fuqua carried the ball 19 times for the Generals for 185 yards and converted for six touchdowns. Robert Lamar carried four times for 84 yards, and Minor carried 11 times for 75 yards and completed 7 of 9 passes for 88 yards in the air.
North Harrison will start its sectional competition at home Friday night against Evansville Bosse with game time at 7:30 p.m. Clarksville will stay at home against its county rival Providence.
North Harrison 8 8 22 22 60
Clarksville 14 14 22 12 62
C Robert Lamar 44 run (Dae'von Fuqua run); NH Aaron Nevil 8 run (Nevil run); C Fuqua 5 run (conv. fails); NH Jarrett Fenn 11 run (Nevil run); C Fuqua 11 run (Marquis Forward pass from Keyshawn Minor); C Fuqua 27 run (conv. fails); C Forward 49 pass from Minor (Lamar pass from Minor); NH Nevil 18 run (Nevil run); C Fuqua 44 run (Lamar pass from Minor); NH Fenn 21 run (Nevil run); C Fuqua 49 run (conv. fails); NH Nevil 2 run (conv. fails); NH Nevil 5 run (Nevil run); C Minor 3 run (conv. fails); NH Nevil 5 run (Nevil run); C Fuqua 35 run (conv. fails); NH Fenn 16 run (conv. fails).