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August 30, 2013

South uses late rally to stun North, win back Victory Bell

TERRE HAUTE — Just when you think you've seen it all in the Terre Haute North-Terre Haute South high school football rivalry, another Friday night happens.

This particular Friday was one of the stunners of the 50-game series, underdog Terre Haute South pulling out a 28-24 victory with two touchdowns in the last 2:19 of the game.

The Patriots, hosting the Victory Bell game at their own field for the first time ever, were coming off a monumental 44-14 victory over a 10-win team from a year ago, while South had enjoyed only a few moments of a 38-20 loss a week ago.

The Braves used those circumstances as fuel for their fire early, scoring on the first play from scrimmage on a 78-yard run by Logan Deady, then answering a North touchdown with an 80-yard drive.

“We knew we were going to run that play first all week,” coach Tim Herrin of the Braves explained later. “It was a play we run, but out of a different formation. We wanted to take advantage of [North’s] defense being aggressive.”

The Braves were aggressive themselves too, much more so than they were a week ago, and the game was a nasty one — it may have set a record for offsetting unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties — throughout.

“North-South had a lot to do with it,” Herrin said, “but for us it started in the summer. We wanted to bring more intensity, more effort to what we’re doing.”

But after taking that 14-7 lead with 4:02 still to play in the first quarter, the Braves didn't do much the rest of the first half and wasted some chances in the third quarter.

North, on the other hand, tied the score at 14 early in the second quarter when quarterback Chris Barrett II hit a pair of long passes, then scored on a sneak.

The Patriots took the lead on their next series, Kai Stratten scoring the touchdown for a 21-14 margin with 3:11 left in the second quarter. After recording huge first-quarter yardage, the Braves didn’t get a first down in the second quarter until the final minute.

“We did some good things,” a disappointed coach Chris Barrett of North said after the game, but then it was the Patriots' turn to waste chances, and neither team scored in the third quarter and most of the fourth.

“We had some missed [pass] routes, some missed reads … and a little of it had to do with emotion,” Herrin said.

Several times North appeared to be ready to apply the coup de grace, once converting a third-and-32 situation from its own 7-yard line, then getting an interception on a pass through the hands of a South receiver, then recovering a fumble at South's 20-yard line with less than half a quarter to play.

Despite a South penalty that enabled North to start its drive at the South 10-yard line, however, the Patriots could only get a field goal for a 10-point lead with 3:54 left. Then South went to work.

With junior quarterback Timmy Herrin suddenly finding numerous targets open, the Braves drove 58 yards in six plays, Johnathan Rogers catching a touchdown pass with 2:19 left.

Using timeouts to stop the clock, the Braves got a defensive stop, but North's Zach Potter's punt left them with 88 yards to go and just 1:40 to do it with.

But Herrin hit Jacob Johnson for 18 yards, then Rogers for 19, then Johnson for 13 more. Koty Hall caught a 10-yarder for another first down, then Justin Jenkins grabbed an 11-yarder. After Herrin scrambled for four yards and South used its final timeout, Johnson made a sliding catch in the end zone for the game-winner with 34.3 seconds to play.

“We were going to play 48 minutes,” coach Herrin said later, “and that was probably the calmest the offense has been all season on those last drives.”

The younger Herrin finished with 26 completions in 35 attempts, with Rogers catching 11 balls and Johnson and Jenkins combining for 11 more receptions. Deady had 115 yards rushing.

South’s defense again gave up some big plays — five of the six completions by Barrett II went for at least 26 yards — but the rushing defense was stout, giving up just 100 yards for the night.

“[The Braves] deserved the victory,” coach Barrett said. “They took it to us right from the beginning … we weren’t very disciplined tonight.

“We had too many missed tackles, too many missed interceptions, too many dropped balls, too many missed blocking assignments. You can't win that way, especially in a rivalry game. Over the course of four quarters, I was disappointed in the way we played, and that’s a credit to South and their effort.”

The crowd situation at North seemed to run as smoothly as it could have, considering it was almost certainly the biggest crowd ever at Gene Shike Field by a couple of thousand. Auxiliary bleachers flanked the track at each end, and most of them were full.

“The atmosphere was awesome,” coach Herrin said.

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