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Penalties, turnovers cost Cougars

September 30, 2009
North Harrison football coach Jason Mullis thought his team had a good shot at getting a win at Mid-Southern Conference-foe Clarksville Friday night. It only took three minutes, however, for Mullis to see his team begin to self-destruct, and the Cougars instead left with a 29-13 loss.

"A lot of turnovers," a disappointed Mullis said after the game. "I really don't know. We had a good talk with them this week. … I really thought we could win this football game. We've played better football than this."

Turnovers and penalties proved to be disastrous for the North Harrison Cougars. This one, where Clarksville’s Drew Farney intercepted a pass intended for North Harrison’s Michael Cox, set the tone of the game in the first quarter. Photo by Wade Bell
For the first 2-1/2 minutes, North Harrison moved the ball on the ground. Then, on their play through the air, a Matt Bruderle pass to Michael Cox, the ball bounced off of the receiver's fingertips into the air. Clarksville's Drew Farney was right there with Cox, and after the ball bounced in the air, was ready to make the interception at the 12-yard line. Two plays later, Farney, on offense, ran in for the score and Clarksville had a 7-0 lead.

The Cougars struggled on their next possession and turned the ball over on downs. North Harrison's defense, however, forced the Generals to give the ball back on downs, as well.

The Cougars finally got things going, running on six of seven plays to get Bruderle into the end zone from one yard. The Cougars muffed the extra-point kick attempt but stayed in the hunt, down 7-6.

North Harrison hoped for a break as it squibbed the kickoff, but Alex Badger quickly fell on the ball to give the Generals good field position on their own 48-yard line. Then, Andrew Beyerle quickly put another dagger into the Cougars, as he ran 52 yards for the Generals' second touchdown and, following the extra-point kick, a 14-6 lead.

North Harrison moved the ball well on its next possession, but, on second-and-10, Bruderle threw a strike downfield. Receiver Mitch Bolin made a good catch, but a hard hit shook the ball loose. Farney recovered.

Neither team scored in the second quarter, and Clarksville took its 14-6 lead to the locker room at halftime.

"We're not consistent on what we're running at all," Mullis said. "We've got guys doing the wrong thing, running the wrong route, stuff like that. That's on us as coaches."

Clarksville had two more touchdowns in the third period. With 6:29 left in the quarter, Farney threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Corey Sparkman.

Then, with 2:16 left, Farney got his second TD of the night, running into the end zone from three yards. Farney also converted for two, and the Generals had a 29-6 lead.

The Cougars did get something to cheer about late in the fourth quarter when Bruderle ran 81 yards into the end zone with 3:50 to go. That wouldn't be enough, however, as the Generals held for the 29-13 win.

"You can't play the games for them," Mullis said. "They've got to start playing it for themselves, and, right now, I don't know. I think we're searching for our identity on offense. Right now, it doesn't look very good. Defensively, we looked good at times. The main thing that hurt themselves tonight is the penalties, but, overall, we did a nice job."

Turnovers and penalties were the main stories for the Cougars. North Harrison lost the ball on fumbles and interceptions five times. The Cougars committed eight penalties that totaled up to an 81-yard setback. Clarksville turned the ball over just once and only had four penalties for 20 yards.

"We just can't win games when we're giving turnovers," Mullis said. "We gave up four or five, and we just can't do it. It's tiring waiting for these guys to get into their own and they still don't. … They've got to say enough is enough and start playing."

"We've just got to keep getting better," he said. "I get tired of saying it … It's very frustrating right now, very frustrating. We've got games to still play, so we've got to keep playing."

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