October 30, 2019The North Harrison football team got two things done Friday night at its Class 3A sectional opener against visiting Evansville Bosse. The first was to get back on track after losing a heart-breaker to Clarksville by a narrow margin that left a sour taste on the Cougars' taste buds. The second was advancing to the next round after North Harrison shredded the Bulldogs 36-7 for a shot at No. 10 Southridge this Friday night.
"We've been getting better offensively," said North Harrison coach Mark Williamson. "We've lived by it with our offensive line. We're pretty simple up front, and they executed. They blocked, knocked people off the ball and wore them down. That was a good, old-fashioned win."
North Harrison's first drive showed the Cougars came to play. Jarrett Fenn first returned the ball out to the 37-yard line on the opening kickoff. The Cougars then bulldozed their way down-field with a ground game between Fenn and running back Aaron Nevil. The next 14 plays put the ball on the Bosse 7-yard line. From there, Nevil carried the ball in for a TD and added the 2-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.
Zachary Taylor dives for a touchdown in the third quarter during the North Harrison 36-7 sectional shellacking of Evansville Bosse.
The Bulldogs didn't need as much time to get on the board. After Quashawn Farris returned the Cougars' kickoff to the 37-yard line, Sheldon Clay took the ball to the house, going 63 yards to score. Andrew Sheller added the extra point, and Bosse trailed by one, 8-7.
"Their first offensive play went (over) 60, and it was reminiscent of last week," said Williamson. "After that, we started tackling."
Bosse got only four plays off before it was forced to give the ball back to the Cougars. The Cougars pounded the ground again, with Nevil carrying the first six plays to the Cougars' 42. Fenn threw to Zachary Taylor on the next play, but the Cougars got caught for a holding penalty, moving the ball back 10 yards.
On the next play, Fenn threw a strike to Colby Whittaker for a 69-yard touchdown completion. Matt Nealy booted through the extra point, and North Harrison's lead increased to 15-7.
Bosse turned the ball over to North Harrison on the second play of its next possession. North Harrison ran 10 plays to the 6-yard line. After timeouts were called in the final 17 seconds before half, the Cougars fumbled on the next play. Despite the turnover, North Harrison went to the locker room with a 15-7 advantage.
JaVonte Madison, at 6 feet and 240 pounds, and Sheldon Clay were the Bulldogs' running backs Williamson was forced to deal with in the first half.
"They were the two guys we were kind of keying on," Williamson said. "We hardly ever focus on one player. We stay in our scheme. We'll look at the film Sunday, and I think we're playing our scheme better. Obviously, our tackling, we're getting out-athleted. We got out-athleted real bad last week and had we won that game last week we'd have had a winning season. We've got to win the next two to have a winning season."
Bosse moved the ball down to the North Harrison 9-yard line to start the second half despite being forced to call timeout after nearly getting caught with 12 players on the field. From there, Clay was sacked, and Bosse was hit with a penalty for an illegal shift. The Cougars, however, made a goal-line stand and Bosse came up short, turning the ball back to the Cougars.
On its next possession, North Harrison suffered a scare when Nevil had the wind knocked out of him on the fifth play of the drive. Zachary Taylor came in and carried the ball to the 3 during the next six plays. Taylor also got the next call that was good for a TD. Fenn added two more on the conversion for a 23-7 lead.
"It was a change of pace, and he handled the football and all that so it was nice," Williamson said of Taylor.
With just less than three minutes to go in the third quarter, it appeared Bosse had got on the board again, but a penalty was called to bring the ball back. Two penalties and a fumble created a fourth-and-35 for the Bulldogs, who eventually gave up the ball again on downs.
North Harrison scored twice more in the fourth quarter while keeping the Bulldogs off the board. Fenn threw to Whittaker for 19 yards with 9:20 to go.
Bosse appeared to fumble the ball on the fourth play of its next possession, but the play was ruled an incomplete pass. On fourth down, Taylor knocked down a Clay pass and the ball went back to the Cougars.
Nevil was back in the game and carried six times to the 7-yard line, setting up a Fenn touchdown rush. Nealy's extra points put the score at the eventual final, 36-7.
"It was a good night for North Harrison football," said Williamson. "Bosse had a lot of self-inflicted wounds, but we were good enough to take advantage of them."
Nevil carried the ball 37 times for the Cougars for 195 yards rushing, and Fenn ran 33 yards on 12 carries and went 4-for-4 passing for 106 yards. Taylor had nine carries for 46 yards.
Williamson praised his offensive line for allowing his team to keep the ball moving on the ground.
"They imposed their will," he said. "If I had a game ball, I'd give it to them ... Our practices have been getting done 15 to 20 minutes early because we're not having to redo anything. Everything is going smooth, and they know what they're doing."
Clay had 73 yards on seven carries, and JaVonte Madison finished with 48 yards on six carries for the Bulldogs.
"We've got a good Southridge team coming in here, and we're expecting to have a good battle with them," said Williams of the next round. "I think, hopefully, they're going to have some trouble stopping our offense, and they're not going to have the athletes we've seen the last two weeks on offense. They're kind of like we are. They kind of grind it out. They've got some quick backs, I'm sure. This is the third time we've played Southridge since 2015. It's the third time we've played them in the playoffs."
North Harrison and Southridge met in the 2015 sectional (28-21 Southridge win) and in 2016 (24-7 Southridge win). Kick-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. in Ramsey.
Evansville Bosse 7 0 0 0 – 7
North Harrison 8 7 8 13 – 36
NH – Aaron Nevil 7 run (Nevil run); EB – Sheldon Clay 63 run (Andrew Sheller kick); NH – Colby Whittaker 69 pass from Jarrett Fenn (Matt Nealy kick); NH – Zachary Taylor 3 run (conv. failed); NH – Whittaker 19 pass from Fenn (conv failed); NH – Fenn 7 run (Nealy kick).