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LEOPOLD—Fumbles and blocked punts that probably would not have happened on a dry field played key roles in North Daviess’ 14-7 win over Perry Central in Class A football sectional semifinals Friday.
Though the game featured two of the top five Class A teams in the state, each team fumbled six times and lost three on the extremely muddy field made worse by rain falling steadily throughout the game.
North Daviess also blocked two Perry Central punts and the Cougars had one of their own punts go for 0 yards, as it was hard to make the long snap to the punter and for the punter to grab the ball and kick it quickly.
With both teams unable to move the ball consistently, neither had good field position most of the game.
The Cougars made a 39-yard punt to the Perry Central 1-yard line late in the first quarter.
Three plays later the Commodores had advanced the ball only 3 yards and had to punt.
Jano Davis blocked the punt and recovered it in the end zone for the game’s first touchdown. He also kicked the extra point.
The Cougars’ next two possessions ended in fumbles, with Colt Mullis and Blaine Persinger recovering them for Perry Central.
Persinger recovered a fumble at the Perry Central 13-yard line. But the Commodores were unable to gain a first down on their ensuing possession, so North Daviess still had good field position on the following possession.
The Cougars took advantage of it, as Davis threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Corey Stuffle with 0:31 left in the first half.
Davis also completed a 14-yard pass to Thomas Farris earlier on that drive.
Those were the only passes the Cougars completed all night, and the Commodores were also able to complete only two.
North Daviess was set to punt on its first possession of the third quarter, but the punter slipped and his knee hit the ground before he could punt the ball, giving Perry Central possession at the North Daviess 12-yard line.
That was one of the few times the Commodores had excellent field position and they took advantage of it. Seven plays later T.J. Hall scored on a 1-yard run.
Hall also kicked the extra point to pull Perry Central within seven points of the Cougars.
After Perry Central tackle Brad Barnes recovered a North Daviess fumble, the Commodores moved the ball to the North Daviess 47.
They had to punt there, though, and Cougar defensive lineman Jacob Breeden blocked it.
Neither team had advanced inside the other’s 40-yard line again when the Cougars set to punt with 0:43 left in the game.
After a bad snap, the would-be punter was tackled for a 16-yard loss at his own 36, giving the Commodores one final chance.
A pass interference penalty against the Cougars and an 11-yard pass from Dee Jay Shaw to Dakota Huff advanced the ball to the North Daviess 14.
But two plays later the Commodores fumbled a snap and North Daviess recovered it.
“It’s a shame you have to play in these kind of conditions,” said Perry Central Coach Mike Spencer.
“I told a radio guy before the game that somewhere there was going to be a big play,” he added. “On that one blocked punt we just didn’t account for a guy coming up the middle.
“Defensively I thought they played really well—they only scored once against our defense.”
The Commodores held Ryan Webster, the fifth leading rusher in the state, to 72 yards on 21 carries.
Davis led the Cougars with 109 yards on 10 carries thanks to one 61-yard gain.
Hall rushed for 71 yards on 18 carries to lead Perry Central.
Perry Central finished the season with a 9-2 record while North Daviess improved to 10-1.