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It takes three North Harrison defenders to haul down Crawford County's Andrew Douglas in the second half of the Wolfpack's 34-27 Homecoming win over the Cougars. (Photo by Wade Bell)

Wolfpack rock Cougars, 34-27

October 22, 2008
On an emotional evening — both Homecoming and Senior Night — the Crawford County Wolfpack football played their best game of two varsity seasons, going right at the visiting North Harrison Cougars for a 34-27 win in "The Battle of Blue River."

"This is the biggest win in this program's short history," Crawford coach Brian Ruble said. "This is a rivalry game, and we take it at that. They take it as that.

"Our boys were inspired by a lot of things that's happened in the past few weeks, stepping up and filling in for people that's been injured and so forth, and with the (automobile) accident with (senior) Kayla Parr. We've been praying for her and was glad to see her here tonight. There's been a lot of adversity, and we've just overcame a lot of things this year."

For North Harrison coach Jason Mullis, it was a disappointing night after playing much better the week before at Charlestown.

"This one hurts," Mullis said in an empty locker room. "There's no doubt."

"Our guys didn't even come to play, I think," he said. "The emotional game we had last week, being so close I thought we got a little big-headed, I think. We probably overlooked Crawford County a little bit, and they came right at us."

Crawford didn't waste time moving the ball and got some help from the Cougars, who went short on the kickoff, then committed a blocking in the back penalty to give Crawford good field position on their own 49-yard line. Jesse Allen carried the ball on the next five plays, then Andrew Douglas took the ball to the 1. Just over three minutes into the game, the Wolfpack got on the board first, Douglas getting the call for the TD. The Crawford senior also got the extra point for a 7-0 lead.

It only took two plays after the kickoff for the Cougars to tie the game as Matt Bruderle exploded for a TD 65-yard run.

Crawford was quick to respond, however, keeping the ball on the ground with Allen and Douglas doing all the damage. With 4:34 to go in the first period, Allen crossed the goal line from a yard out and Crawford had a 14-7 lead.

"We were going to run the ball until we had to pass it," Ruble said. "We only passed a few times. (Quarterback) Daniel (Allen) probably could have had a lot of yards tonight, but this is one of those grind-it-out, smash-mouth football games, and we just kind of smashed them in the face."

Both teams scored again in the second period. Bruderle gave the Cougars something to cheer about when he broke loose for a 54-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 14. With 8:10 to go in the half, Allen broke loose for a 39-yard touchdown run. North Harrison blocked the kick, however, leaving the score at 20-14 at halftime.

Bruderle tied the game with 8:33 left in the third period with a 5-yard run. The Cougars had a chance to go ahead, but Zack Stephenson's extra-point attempt went left, leaving the score at 20-20.

Crawford's next possession stayed on the ground as before, but it hit a barrier with Kaleb Wyman losing two yards for third-down-and-11. Daniel Allen then misfired on a pass, leading to fourth down. Both Daniel and Wyman, however, made up for their problems on the next play. Under pressure, Allen launched a pass to Wyman down the left side. Wyman grabbed the ball under pressure for the first down. Three plays later, Allen threw another pass, this one to Nick Cotner for a touchdown and a 27-20 Crawford lead.

"That was so huge," Ruble said. "He stayed in the pocket and took a hit."

With 9:45 to go in the game, Crawford scored again, Jesse Allen getting the call from a yard out and the Wolfpack taking a 34-20 lead, sending the Crawford fans into a frenzy.

North Harrison's short kick worked this time with Jimmie Slucher getting the ball for the Cougars. Four plays later, Matt Johnson threw to Michael Cundiff from 16 yards to score. Stephenson punched through the kick, and the Cougars left the Crawford crowd in silence as the scoreboard showed a 34-27 score with 8:16 to go.

Crawford moved the ball to the North Harrison 29-yard line for fourth down-and-1, but the Cougar defense held the Wolfpack 10 inches short of a first down, taking the ball over on downs. The Cougars ran their first three plays on the ground, then went to the air. North Harrison failed to get a much-needed first down, and Crawford took over again with 4:16 to go.

With 2:37 left in the game, Crawford was forced to punt the ball away, the Cougars hoping to get back on the board again. Johnson threw to Levi Simpson for a seven-yard gain. North Harrison then misfired on two pass attempts. On fourth-and-3, Bruderle got the call to the line of scrimmage. After a measurement, however, North Harrison was found to be just six inches short of a first down, the ball going over to the Wolfpack, who let the clock run for the 34-27 win.

"We've come into our own, and this is our first win against a 3A school that we've had," Ruble said. "Now, we might get a little bit of respect."

Jesse Allen led Crawford with 212 yards rushing on 31 carries, and Douglas had 12 carries for 61 yards. Daniel Allen was three for five passing for 33 yards, with Crawford totaling 304 yards of offense. On defense James Massengale led the Wolfpack with nine tackles.

"We just said, 'Don't give up the big play the second half. Make them go the distance and we'll be OK because our offense is moving the ball very, very well,' " Ruble said. "That's what we did and that's what happened and we got a win."

Bruderle led North Harrison with 279 yards and three touchdowns. The Cougars had a 411 total yards of offense.

"Overall, he had a good night," Mullis said. "There at the end, we had to get away (from) what we do and we're not very good at that. I thought Bruderle threw the ball very well. I don't know if they slowed him down as much. All year we've been getting five or six yards (a play). I think he pretty much still got that. He broke a couple of big ones off tonight.

Crawford is now looking forward to its sectional game at Brown County Friday night, while the Cougars will have to regroup as they go back to Charlestown.

"If we had been 14 points up and lose this game, in overtime or whatever, it would have been devastating," Ruble said. "But they weren't going to let that happen. These boys deserve this."

"A new season starts next week," Mullis said. "It's the end of the regular season and now it's play-off time. Now, we've got to flip the switch. It will help us a little bit knowing we can play with Charlestown."

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