Terre Haute North is ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press Class 5A football poll, the loftiest perch the Patriots have ever enjoyed.
Unfancied Bloomington South didn't care.
In one of the most compelling high school football games in North's history, the Patriots survived an almighty scare, but defeated Bloomington South 51-47 in a wild and crazy, end-to-end Conference Indiana contest on Friday that featured 1,283 yards of total offense between the two teams.
Ricky Brookins' 44-yard touchdown run with 1:08 left in the game proved to be the clincher for North, but the Patriots (5-2, 3-2) had to sweat out a Bloomington South last-minute effort that only died when Trey Grim intercepted a Bryce Stancombe pass at the Bloomington South goal line on the final play of the game.
"As a captain and leader, I had to keep us up. We knew had to go out there and finish and we did it," Brookins said.
North running backs Brookins (261 yards) and Kai Stratten (159 yards) each had outstanding games and they needed every one of those yards. Bloomington South's Eli Eads rushed for 347 yards for the Panthers, a school record.
In an offensive smorgasbord that seemed more video game-like than real, North had 639 yards of total offense. Bloomington South countered with 644 of their own. North had 442 rushing yards and averaged 9.4 yards per carry.
"It was like a WAC game or a Mountain West game. This whole conference ... I love it. There's shootouts every week. It's competitive football, guys on both sides battling, that was one heck of a competitive football game. I'm glad we're the winner, but I could've gone either way," North coach Chris Barrett said.
If the game had featured just the first three quarters of action, it would have been more than enough for a typical Friday game, but the teams saved the best for last in the fourth quarter.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Eads -- who had rushed for 152 yards in the third quarter alone -- plunged in from a yard out to put the Panthers up 40-30.
North was ready for Eads, a past starter who regained his spot when incumbent Tabin Breedlove went down with an injury, but ready or not, Eads made North miss with crafty fakes and cuts that left Patriots' defenders guessing.
"Their backs were side-stepping and we were missing. We had more missed tackles than we've had all season. We were prepared for everything we saw tonight, we just didn't make plays," coach Barrett said.
Down 10, North needed a quick score and got it. Taking just 43 seconds off the clock, a 14-yard Brookins run and a 69-yard Stratten burst led to a 7-yard Brookins touchdown. North trailed 40-37 and needed more help.
Prayers were once again answered. Bloomington South's Marquise Holt fumbled on the ensuing kick return. North recovered at the Bloomington South 34. Four plays later, Brookins scored from 12 yards out to put North up 44-40. The Patriots had scored 14 points in the span of 1 minute, 10 seconds.
"We hate to say it, but when a team scores with not much time left, we get discouraged," Brookins said. "But we finished this one and we played it out."
But Bloomington South was far from defeated. After both teams had empty possessions, Eads went to work again. Eads had 47 rushing yards sandwiched around a 38-yard completion from Stancombe (who threw for 257 yards) to Keenan Franz. Eads scored from five yards out to put the Panthers up 47-44 with 1:37 left.
North returned the kickoff to midfield, but faced 3rd-and-1 at the Bloomington South 44. Brookins got the call up the middle, but he was stuffed by Bloomington South's defensive surge.
Undaunted, Brookins rolled off the tacklers to his left, regained his balance and found a blessed sight ... 44 yards of daylight. There were no Panthers to stop Brookins as he went the distance and put North up 51-47 with 1:08 left.
"Initially he was stuffed short where the ref was lined up and I was like, 'Gosh, it's fourth down.' I was getting ready to get the next play. Then I hear the crowd erupt and I looked to my right and there he goes," North quarterback Chris Barrett II said. "He's the playmaker. That's the guy we went to go to and he pulled it off."
In a game such as this, there was no way the Panthers were done, and on cue, they drove to the North 10, a 40-yard Stancombe-to-Richard Williams catch on 3rd-and-20 got them there.
Stancombe spiked the ball with :02 left and Bloomington South (2-5, 1-4) was fortunate not to face a clock runoff as the officials called it intentional grounding. Left with one last gasp from the North 15, Stancombe scrambled out of trouble, but was intercepted by Trey Grim to give the victory to the Patriots.
"I just wanted us to wrap up. That's all I was worried about was to wrap up. We listened to the coaches on the coverage and we finished it," said Brookins, also a Patriots' defensive back.
The scoring and yardage were compiled from the start and the yardage cash register never stopped cha-chinging.
North got on the board first and its first scoring drive seemed to portend an easy night for the Patriots. Barrett II scored on a 9-yard touchdown scramble. On the drive, North averaged 6.8 yards per carry.
That's as easy as it would get for the Patriots.
As North drove deep into Bloomington South territory, the trouble began. Brookins fumbled after a 21-yard gain on a Barrett pass, gifting the Panthers the ball deep in their territory.
Eads rushed for 62 yards on the Panthers' first play and Stancombe found Williams on a 15-yard touchdown connection to tie the game.
From there, the teams couldn't separate from one another. The Panthers took a 14-7 lead on a 39-yard Stancombe-to-Franz connection after a short North punt.
North then took advantage of a Bloomington South fumble, gaining the ball at midfield. A 25-yard Brookins run, plus penalty, plus 12-yard Stratten touchdown run knotted the contest at 14.
Stancombe put the Panthers back in front with an 18-yard touchdown scramble to make it 21-14. North needed just one play to tie it as Barrett II found Jordan Moothery wide open behind Bloomington South's secondary. Moothery's 64-yard touchdown pass made it 21-21.
Another Brookins fumble -- this time at the North 37 -- gave the Panthers a golden opportunity and they seized it via a 5-yard Stancombe-to-Logan Kirby touchdown.
"He was very disappointed at halftime. I wasn't sure if we'd snap him out of it," coach Barrett said. "I told him great players bounce back. They're resilient."
North ran a crisp two-minute drill in response. Converting a fourth down to set themselves up at the Bloomington South 19, Barrett II found Nate Carson in the left corner of the end zone. Carson was covered well by Bloomington South's Ramonee Bruce, but Carson skied higher for the ball and kept a foot inbounds for an impressive touchdown catch with 15 seconds left.
The extra point was blocked and Bloomington South maintained a slim 28-27 halftime lead. The teams combined for 642 total yards of offense in first half.
"Our guys were disappointed at halftime. But I told them, 'Listen, this is a lot more fun than a 47-7 game. Get out there and enjoy football.' I think that approach we took kept them positive," coach Barrett said.
The Panthers picked up where they left over after the break. Eads had 52 rushing yards on a 59-yard scoring drive to open the half, capped by a 13-yard touchdown run to make it 34-27.
The Panthers were driving again to take a two-score lead when the Patriots finally broke the Panthers' stride. On 4th-and-2 from the North 15, Stratten intercepted Stancombe in the end zone. North used the turnover to creep within four on a 28-yard Zach Potter field goal. That score set up the wild fourth-quarter ride for both teams.
The points figure to keep coming next Friday as North plays at high-flying Perry Meridian.
Patriots win 51-47 as teams combine for 1,283 total yards
Terre Haute North is ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press Class 5A football poll, the loftiest perch the Patriots have ever enjoyed.
- High School
Herrin's pitching effort leads South to win over Northview
When two good high school baseball teams get together, each using one of its better pitchers, the margin for error figures to be slim, and some defensive plays that weren’t made were the difference Friday evening as Terre Haute South beat Northview 7-1.
Stout home run sparks South softball at Sullivan
Terre Haute South junior Mariah Stout made her father proud and helped her team win its eighth game of the season at the same time Friday evening.
With the previously flat-looking Braves trailing host Sullivan 1-0 with two outs and nobody on base in the top of the second inning, Stout woke up her dugout mates by hammering a McKenzie Pirtle pitch over the fence in left-center field for a score-tying home run.
Terre Haute North baseball cruises past Warren Central
Terre Haute North swept a high school baseball doubleheader against Warren Central on Friday night by scores of 14-1 and 10-4.
PREP ROUNDUP: Sollars, Morrison lead West Vigo softball to win
Kaitlyn Sollars had a double, triple and four runs batted in and winning pitcher Leah Morrison contributed a pair of triples and a double to lead visiting West Vigo over Riverton Parke 14-1 in high school softball.
West Vigo baseball wins in rout
When Brandin Behringer drove in his first run Thursday evening, it gave West Vigo a short-lived lead in nonconference high school baseball.
The remainder of the Viking senior’s RBIs came four at a time in the bottom of the fourth inning, his grand-slam homer capping the second of consecutive seven-run innings that sent his team to a 15-3 win over visiting North Vermillion.
Prep roundup: Vikings get big hits to beat North Vermillion on softball diamond
The West Vigo softball team improved to 4-3 for the season with an 11-4 victory over North Vermillion on Thursday.
Leah Morrison busted the game open with a three-run double in the Vikings’ seven-run fourth inning.
Kenzie Little chipped in with a two-run triple in the sixth and Hannah Harden tossed a complete-game for the pitching win.
Prep baseball: Northview beats top-ranked Shakamak
Damon Bass pitched a three-hit shutout and struck out seven to lead Northview to a 7-0 high school baseball victory over Shakamak.
The visiting Knights blew open a tight game against Class A’s top-ranked team with a four-run seventh inning.
Austin Butts and Jake Harden combined for six hits for Northview.
PREP ROUNDUP: North girls tennis wins 5-0 at Plainfield
Terre Haute North’s girls tennis team swept its opening match of the high school season as it defeated Plainfield 5-0 on Wednesday.
AMEY TAKES AIM: Loss of Coach Bennett leaves hole in Marshall
My email box is a little less busy now, and there’ll be a familiar face missing on basketball trips to Marshall in the future.
Roncalli fights past North Central in extra innings on way to Braves Bash title
Roncalli became a three-time Gold Bracket champion of the sixth annual Braves Bash high school softball tournament at Terre Haute’s Miss Softball America complex Saturday night by defeating Evansville Mater Dei 7-1 in the title game.
The 12-team round-robin tournament, which started Friday evening with three pools, and concluded with bracket championships Saturday night.
Sullivan enjoys record golf day at Northview Invitational
Sullivan and No. 1 player Nathan Pirtle were top finishers in the Northview Invitational for high school boys golf teams played Saturday at Forest Park.
TH North loses to McCutcheon, beats Harrison (West Lafayette)
Terre Haute North bounced back from a big loss to host McCutcheon to defeat Harrison (West Lafayette) in a pair of high school baseball games Saturday.
The Mavericks defeated the Patriots 17-7 early Saturday, but North beat the Raiders 9-4 later in the day.
West Vigo baseball drops first two in Center Grove Classic
West Vigo hammered the baseball all over the field and had a double-digit lead through three innings early in the week at Seeger before rain washed it out short of a complete game.
TH South sweeps MIC baseball doubleheader
Justin Jenkins and Timmy Herrin led visiting Terre Haute South to a sweep of a Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference high school baseball doubleheader Saturday at Indianapolis North Central.
Opening their final MIC season, the Braves won the opener 9-6 and the nightcap 8-6.
Braves Softball Bash a 'premier' early-season tournament
The Braves Softball Bash has grown to 12 schools in 2014, with high school teams looking to gauge their early-season progress against quality competition.
The host Braves have put together a solid 3-1 start that includes a doubleheader sweep of Casey, Ill., a newcomer to the field along with West Vigo.
Golf season gets going Saturday with Northview Invitational
Most high school boys golf teams in the area will get the season started Saturday in the Northview Invitational at Forest Park.
New players will be in the lineups for many of the teams. Sullivan and Greencastle are the leaders in returning players.
PREP ROUNDUP: Allen homers in North softball win
Jazmine Allen had her first home run of the season and she and Conner Nelson combined for five hits and four RBIs as Terre Haute North defeated Sullivan 8-1 on Thursday in nonconference high school softball.
PREP ROUNDUP: South offense leads Braves to dominant win over Lincoln
Justin Jenkins had three hits and Jacob Johnson and Zach Donnelly drove in four runs apiece as Terre Haute South rolled to a 15-2 high school baseball victory Wednesday at Vincennes Lincoln.
Terre Haute North tops Sullivan, falls to Class A No. 1 Shakamak
Class A No. 1-ranked Shakamak got a big pitching performance and big hits from Braxton and Brett Yeryar Tuesday night while beating Terre Haute North 5-2 at Don Jennings Field.
Prep roundup: West Vigo softball wins in 4 1/2 innings
Charity Lane, Shelby Edington, Baylee Waters and Leah Morrison each had two hits and Lane knocked in three runs to lead West Vigo past visiting Turkey Run 13-2 in a run-rule high school softball game that went 4 1/2 innings Tuesday.
Terre Haute South cruises to Braves Bash title
Terre Haute South knew it had a deep pitching staff going into the 11th annual Braves Bash baseball tournament and that proved to be true. But the Braves’ offense surprised everyone but the players Saturday as South won two 10-run-rule games en route to the championship.
South defeated Mount Vernon 10-0 Saturday morning and capped the championship with a 14-4, come-from-behind victory over Munster in the finale.
PREP ROUNDUP: Collett homers as North splits doubleheader
Sophomore T.J. Collett hit a solo home run in the top of the seventh inning in the first game of a doubleheader as Terre Haute North opened its high school baseball season with a 9-3 victory over host Hamilton Southeastern on Saturday.
The Patriots lost the nightcap 6-0 after three first-inning errors led to three unearned runs.
Metro sports: Locks of Love tournament today at Memorial Stadium
The Indiana State Women’s Soccer team will host its annual Locks of Love tournament today. The 4th annual event will begin at 9 a.m. at Memorial Stadium.
PREP TRACK PREVIEW: Raetz, Holman among new coaches
Two new coaches are in charge among the eight Vigo County and Northview high school track teams in 2014, although one of them isn’t really that new.
Mark Raetz has taken over the Northview boys for Chad Smith, who is battling an illness. Raetz formerly headed the Terre Haute South boys program for two seasons.
Metro sports: ISU blanks Austin Peay in 6-plus innings
Indiana State’s baseball team posted another mid-week victory Wednesday night as four pitchers combined to throw a three-hit shutout and lead a 3-0 victory over Austin Peay State at Bob Warn Field.
Season preview: Vigo County, Northview baseball teams ready to roll
To no one’s surprise, Wabash Valley baseball fans don’t have to leave Vigo County — although they certainly could, as described later in this article — to find talented baseball players on the high school diamond this spring.
Terre Haute North has a quartet of .300 hitters returning — Zach Milam, Jonathan Eilbracht, Nathan Will and Lane Dransfield — in addition to super sophomore T.J. Collett, who led the Patriots with a team-best 50 runs batted in for the 24-7 Patriots last season. Collett hit .424 with six doubles, two triples and nine home runs as a freshman.
PREP ROUNDUP: Marlow's 10 RBI leads Braves' softball at Casey
Terre Haute South’s Kelsey Marlow had 10 runs-batted-in during a doubleheader sweep at Casey.
Metro sports: ISU’s Stone, Riemenschneider honored by MVC
Indiana State junior Megan Stone and freshman Brooke Riemenschneider each earned Missouri Valley Conference Athlete of the Week honors, according to an announcement from the league office Monday.
Girls state finals leaving Terre Haute
The IHSAA and city of Terre Haute are still on excellent terms, insists Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Dave Patterson. But that didn’t keep the girls basketball state finals from returning to Indianapolis in 2015 after a three-year stint with Terre Haute’s Hulman Center serving as the host venue.
TH South comes out swinging in softball opener
The combination of experience and talent has created great expectations, from both the fans and players, for the Terre Haute South High School softball team. The Braves displayed both Friday afternoon in an impressive 11-4 season-opening victory over host Southmont.
- More High School Headlines
- Herrin's pitching effort leads South to win over Northview