TERRE HAUTE —
Evansville North’s football team played keep away from Terre Haute North in the first quarter, but the Huskies came up empty on a 16-play, 10-minute drive that included a pair of fourth-down conversions.
The Patriots’ offense never matched that kind of time-of-possession dominance during Friday’s IHSAA Class 5A Sectional 16 championship game at Carl S. Riddle Field.
Didn’t need to.
Terre Haute North dominated the game with defense, special teams and big plays offensively to cruise to a 42-7 victory.
The Patriots’ defense set the offense up with good field position.
Terre Haute North scored on the first snap of three drives on its way to claiming the program’s first sectional crown since 1986. It’s the second sectional title in school history and first in coach Chris Barrett’s career.
The Patriots will advance to the regional title game, earning a home game with Bloomington North, thanks to the Cougars’ 24-21 win against Bloomington South.
“Just so proud of these kids,” coach Chris Barrett said after enjoying his celebratory ice bath on a cool night. “I’m happy to see the end resul of all the hard work they’ve put in. Hopefully we’re not done for a while.”
Terre Haute North’s explosive offensive night began after its defense pinned the Huskies deep and forced a punt early in the second quarter.
Ricky Brookins returned the punt 15 yards to the Huskies’ 20-yard line. Brookins then took a handoff and cut out into space to the left side and broke a tackle for his 24th rushing touchdown of the season.
North quarterback Chris Barrett II made the second TD happen with an excellent two-minute drill before halftime. Barrett II missed on his first six pass attempts, but connected with Nate Carson for a 19-yard gain then found Logan Grim for a 21—yard pass play to reach the Huskies’ 5.
“[That drive] was everything. It got us in a rhythm and showed us we were playing with a lot of enthusiasm. We kept pounding and pounding and eventually busted it open,” Barrett II said. “We just want to keep rolling.”
Kai Stratten found the end zone on the next play for the first of three touchdowns for the senior running back. Stratten led the Patriots with 82 yards, while Brookins had 73.
Carson had the biggest play of them all, taking a short pass from Chris Barrett II and sprinting down the sideline for a 91-yard touchdown play. Carson shook off the diving attempt of the Huskies’ Chase Whitler inside the 10 to finish it off and stretch the Patriots’ lead to 21-0.
“It was just a quick screen, had a couple good blocks. He almost got me, but we run 100 [yard sprints every Tuesday]. That helped out,” said Carson, who finished with over 100 yards receiving.
“We had a lot of good plays. We’re a second half team really. That score going into halftime just really helpedf us.”
Stratten busted a 49-yard run on the first play of a drive late in the third quarter after an Austin Massey interception and 34-yard return.
After another defensive stop, Stratten scored from 8 yards out to stretch the lead to 35-0 with 11 minutes remaining.
Evansville North stopped the shutout in the final minute’s against Terre Haute North’s reserves, with Maalik Butler running it in from 15 yards out.
Terre Haute North, now in the final eight teams in Class 5A, defeated Bloomington North by a score of 44-23 at Bloomington on Sept. 20.
Terre Haute North 42, Evansville North 7
Evansville North 0 0 0 7 — 0
Terre Haute North 7 7 14 14 — 42
THN — Brookins 20 run (Potter kick), 8:40 2Q
THN — Stratten 5 run (Potter kick), 26.5 2Q
THN — Carson 91 pass from Barrett II (Potter kick), 7:45 3Q
THN — Stratten 49 run (Potter kick), 1:35 3Q
THN — Stratten 8 run (Potter kick), 11:02 4Q
THN — Logan Grim 1 run (Potter kick), 3:59 4Q
EN — Maalik Butler 15 run (Turi kick), 52.1 4Q
Next — Terre Haute North (9-2) plays host to Bloomington North (7-4) next Friday at Carl S. Riddle Field. Evansville North finished 3-8.