TERRE HAUTE —
The game was a little different even though the score – 28-10 instead of 27-10 during the regular season – was almost identical.
But one thing Friday night’s Class 5A Sectional 6 high school football game had in common with another game the second week of the season was an uncomfortable fact for Terre Haute South: the Braves failed to take advantage of some chances, and Terre Haute North made them pay.
The Patriots, clinching their second winning season in the past three years, get another home game next Friday against Avon.
Both teams came into the game with offensive game plans at the ready, each moving smartly down the field for a touchdown on its first series.
North had a Ricky Brookins drive, starting with a 19-yard kickoff return, to take an early lead. Brookins, who led all rushers Friday with 133 yards on 28 carries, had the ball on every play but one in the Patriots’ 67-yard, 10-play march. Then, on fourth-and-2, a play-action pass was available for Chris Barrett II to find Calvin Blank for the touchdown.
“The last game [against South] we knew we could run the ball on them,” Brookins explained after the game. “We knew what to do, and we executed.”
And why did he get so many carries in a row?
“It seemed like it was working,” the junior back said, “so why stop it?”
“We probably run power [a direct running play] more than any team in the state,” coach Chris Barrett of the Patriots said later. “This week we stressed our counter play, and we ran it until [the Braves] adjusted.”
South’s offense was definitely not fazed by North’s quick score, however, and got one back even more quickly. Danny Etling completed two passes, including a 37-yarder to Jonathan Weakley, then scored on a quarterback sneak with 6:03 still remaining in the first quarter.
Both these teams have been at least as good defensively as they have been offensively all season, however, and offense went away for awhile. Although its propensity for penalties kept North in miserable field position, the Braves could not take the lead -- and indeed didn’t get another first down the rest of the first half.
“Bottom line is, we needed to score more points,” coach Mark Raetz of the Braves summarized. “I thought we had field position in our favor and had some opportunies. We just didn’t convert.”
North finally got its first first down since its opening drive midway through the second quarter, and drove 67 yards in seven plays to take a 14-7 lead. The younger Barrett’s 41-yard completion to Charles Dillahunt set up the score, a 3-yard run by Brookins.
A sack of Etling by a blitzing Austin Lewis backed the Braves up, and North needed to go just 48 yards for its second touchdown of the second period. With just 12.3 seconds left before halftime, Lewis scored on a reverse, stretching the ball across the goal line for a 21-7 lead.
Then things got really frustrating for South.
The Braves had a 14-play drive to start the third quarter, a march started when punter Jeremy Patterson took off on his own for a 22-yard gain in the first minute of the half. The Braves got to third-and-2 at the 3-yard line, but Vasco Billberry snuffed a running play, and a delay-of-game penalty forced South to kick a field goal.
(And Patterson wound up his team’s leading rusher.)
North responded with its third straight scoring drive, going 80 yards in 12 plays. Dillahunt had a 17-yard reception on second-and-11, Brother Scank a killer 27-yard catch on third-and-10, and Dillahunt a 20-yard scoring pass on third-and-13.
South had other threats. Howie Lawson forced a fumble recovered by Dickie Rollins to give the Braves the ball at North’s 31-yard line, but Ryan Moshak got an interception for North; South got to North’s 12-yard line, only to give the ball back on downs at the 21; and a fumble recovery by Dillon Bell was nullified when the Braves again moved backward after having the ball at North’s 15.
Defensive end Calvin Blank, who had an all-state performance a week earlier at Indianapolis North Central, was the key to the last two stops with a deflected pass, a sack and a bull rush that drew a holding penalty.
“We wanted to come out tonight and fly to the ball, play nasty. Keep our poise -- most of the time -- and just play football,” he said after the game.
As far as his two big games in a row are concerned, he said, “I credit my defensive tackles; they’re getting double-teamed and giving me a lot of one-on-one at the edge. And our coverage [in the secondary] was great, so I’ve got all the time in the world to rush. Chris Spencer [the other defensive end] was keeping [the Braves] contained. It was a team effort.”
“I’m proud of the guys,” coach Barrett said. “In a big rivalry game like this, they’ve done what they’ve done all year. They prepared, they practiced hard, and when the other team does something, they just keep playing.
“We knew South had big-play capability. They’re a good football team and well coached, but we did what we needed to do to win.”
“I really felt like we had a good game plan going in, and had a good week of practice,” Raetz concluded. “We just came up short.”
TH North 28, TH South 10
Terre Haute South 7 0 3 0 — 10
Terre Haute North 7 14 7 0 — 28
THN — Calvin Blank 11 pass from Chris Barrett II (Zach Potter kick), 8:05 1st
THS — Danny Etling 1 run (Adam Kahn kick), 6:03 1st
THN — Ricky Brookins 3 run (Potter kick), 5:49 2nd
THN — Austin Lewis 5 run (Potter kick), 0:12.3 2nd
THS — Kahn 25 FG
THN — Charles Dillahunt 20 pass from Barrett (Potter kick), 1:10 3rd
First downs 9 18
Rushes-yards 26-26 51-191
Passing yards 126 152
Comp-Att-Int 9-25-1 8-12-0
Return yards 1 minus 1
Fumbles-lost 3-0 3-2
Punts-avg 3-32.7 4-27.8
Penalties-yards 6-40 10-117
Rushing: South — Jeremy Patterson 1-22, Ian Newton 7-15, Jacob Johnson 5-14, Michael Watt 5-7, Tyler Seibert 1-minus 4, Etling 7-minus 28. North — Brookins 28-133, Brother Scank 14-48, Barrett 5-17, Lee Davis 1-0, Team 1-minus 2, Lewis 2-minus 5.
Passing: South — Etling 9-25-1, 126 yards. North — Barrett 8-12-0, 152.
Receiving: South — Seibert 4-55, Johnson 3-24, Jonathan Weakley 2-47. North — Dillahunt 4-92, Scank 3-49, Blank 1-11.
Next — Terre Haute North (6-4) hosts Avon in a Class 5A Sectional 6 semifinal next Friday. Terre Haute South finished 3-7.