By Bob Hyle
Harrison Wildcats football coach Kent McCullough is a relative newcomer to the Harrison/East Central rivalry, but he knows a typical Wildcats/Trojans matchup when he sees one and last Friday’s 21-17 win for the Cats was one of them.
“It was a typical Harrison/East Central football game,” said McCullough. “It was a fight all the way to the end.”
Three of the four times McCullough has coached in this game the winning team won by a touchdown or less.
“I think last year’s game (a 34-7 win for the Cats) was a fluke. This is the type of game we expect when we play East Central,” said McCullough.
It was a game the Trojans certainly feel they could win. After losing the lead to the Cats with 5:44 to go in the game on a 17-yard pass from Jake Weber to Alex Anderson, the Trojans methodically marched down the field, reaching the Harrison eight yard line for a first and goal situation.
The Wildcats defense came through with a pair of nice plays. Defensive lineman Nathan Silcox made the tackle on second down, but the big play came on third down when linebacker Tylyn James sacked East Central quarterback Luke Patton. Before Patton went down, though, he attempted to pass the ball, but with no receiver in sight, the referees threw a flag for intentional grounding. On fourth down, Patton’s pass to the end zone fell incomplete.
“You can’t afford to sit back in that situation and not be aggressive,” said McCullough of James’ sack. “When the game is on the line, you don’t want your best players standing on the sideline next to you; you want them on the field.”
Neither team could build any type of momentum in the game. The Wildcats scored first at the 4:57 mark of the second quarter on a screen pass from Weber to Anderson for 15 yards to cap a nine-play, 71 yard drive.
The Trojans tied the game with just eight seconds remaining in the half as Patton engineered a 10-play drive that covered 55 yards. Patton scored himself on a two-yard run.
Harrison quickly marched down the field after receiving the second half kickoff, taking just over two minutes to move 64 yards. The final 24 came on a pass from Weber to Mitchell Hogue.
The Trojans cut the lead to 14-10 after Stidham kicked a 24-yard field goal, which was set up by a 24-yard punt return by Doug Rosemeyer.
Thanks to another short field, the Trojans took their first lead of the game with 9:50 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Trojans went 42 yards in nine plays and Patton capped things with a nine-yard run to make it 17-10.
“There was no panic on our sidelines,” said McCullough.
Harrison fans were close to panicking. The Cats faced a third and 23 situation when Weber connected with Anderson on a screen pass, the same play that was run for Harrison’s first TD. That got 17 yards, but there remained a fourth and five play and Weber went to his favorite target, Hogue, who converted the first down.
Weber went back to Anderson once again, this time for a 17-yard TD pass and the lead.
“I’ve got to give the East Central coaches a lot of credit for the improvement they made from their first game to the second game,” said McCullough. “They knew they wanted to shorten the game and they just pounded the ball. It was a great game plan and it gave them a chance to win it at the end.”
The Trojans are 0-2 and face a tough prospect this week when they face LaSalle, a shocking 40-21 winner over Division I powerhouse Colerain last weekend.
Harrison is on the road at Oak Hills Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Highlanders lost to Elder by a score of 34-6 last Friday night.
“We know we have to make improvements,” said McCullough. “We have to get a running game established and that’s going to be difficult because we are going to see a bigger line than East Central had. We’ve got some good offensive weapons with Jake, Mitchell and Alex, but we have to find out who will be the next options for us.”
Harrison 21 East Central 17
Harrison 0 7 7 7 - 21
East Central 0 7 3 7 - 17
Harrison – Anderson, 15-yard pass from Weber (Alvarez kick)
East Central – Patton, 2-yard run (Stidham kick)
Harrison – Hogue, 24-yard pass from Weber (Alvarez kick)
East Central – Stidham, 24-yard field goal
East Central – Patton, 9-yard run (Stidham kick)
Harrison – Anderson, 17-yard pass from Weber (Alvarez kick)
Harrison: Anderson, 8 carries for 41 yards; Weber, 10 carries for 32 yards; Hogue, 3 carries for 7 yards; James, 1 carry for 3 yards.
East Central: Patton, 19 carries for 103 yards, 2 TD; Keilholz, 18 carries for 96 yards; Frick, 4 carries for 11 yards; Rosemeyer, 1 carry for 4 yards.
Harrison: Weber, 11 fo1 8 for 171 yards, 3 TDs.
East Central: Patton, 8 for 18 for 104 yards.
Harrison: Hogue, 6 catches for 113 yards, TD; Anderson, 3 catches for 49 yards, 2 TD; James, 2 catches for 9 yards.
East Central: Kammer, 3 catches for 23 yards; Keilholz, 2 catches for 45 yards; Hoog, 2 catches for 28 yards; Moser, 1 catch for 8 yards.
First downs: H 21; EC 17
Rushes/yards: H 22/83; EC 43/213
Passes/attempts: H 11/18; EC 8/18
Passing yards: H 171; EC 104
Total offense: H 254, EC 317
Punts/average: H 4/40.2; EC 3/40.0
Penalties/yards: H 8/68; EC 7/62
Time of possession: H 18:04; EC 29:23
Third down conversions: H 2/7; EC 5/12