Costly mistakes at big moments.
Penalties and turnovers helped set up host Evansville North for success and helped end Terre Haute South’s high school football season Friday night.
The Huskies built a 33-14 fourth-quarter lead and held off a furious rally by the Braves to win a 33-28 first-round game in Class 5A sectional action.
Jacob Johnson gave the Braves life when he returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown following Evansville North’s third touchdown of the second half after the Braves led 14-13 at halftime. Timmy Herrin threw for 166 yards in that first half, throwing and running for a touchdown for the Braves.
South compiled over 200 yards in the first half, but the Braves didn’t finish enough drives and allowed Evansville North to pull within 14-13.
“We talked about that we left some points out there,” South coach Tim Herrin said. “We had opportunities to score more points and we let it slip through. We said the third quarter was going to be crucial. We didn’t make the plays we needed to and we missed some tackles.”
While Herrin got on a roll late in the first half, it was all Evansville North quarterback Jesse Millikan in the third quarter. Millikan connected on his first six passes in the second half.
Mason Jenkins scored on a five-yard pass with 6:43 on the third-quarter clock. Less than two minute later, Terre Haute South went for it on 4th-and-3 near midfield. Herrin fumbled the snap and lost three yards on the play.
Millikan faked a handoff to a running back then hit Maalik Butler in stride for a 48-yard scoring play.
The Braves’ offense was connecting on nearly every 3rd-and long in the first half, but they couldn’t make the big plays in the second half.
Herrin was incomplete on a 4th-and-7 attempt on the Huskies’ 16-yard line, for example, and the Braves lost two fumbles and Herrin threw an interception. Evansville North was able to turn the turnovers into points throughout the night.
“We just had a bad snap on that [fourth-down play], the ball just didn’t bounce our way,” Herrin said.
But South never gave up. Johnson’s kickoff return included a fake reverse before busting through traffic and racing to the end zone.
“I told the players at the end. I’ve never questioned their effort all season,” Herrin said. “Jacob took it upon himself, he called the fake reverse and he made a play. That’s what players do.”
Johnson’s kickoff return was followed by an onside kick that the Braves’ recovered.
Herrin connected on consecutive 20-yard pass plays to Justin Jenkins, the latter a touchdown grab in traffic to make it 33-28 with 3:18 to go.
South couldn’t come up with another onside kick on two attempts, but the Braves’ defense came up with the stop to give Herrin one more chance.
The junior quarterback found LaMarkis Stevenson, who had an impressive night with four catches for 78 yards and a touchdown, for a 23-yard gain. With less than five seconds remaining, Herrin heaved a Hail Mary attempt toward the end zone that was batteddown.
Herrin finished 19-of-34 for 299 yards and two touchdown passes.
Terre Haute South has not won a sectional game since defeating Terre Haute North 14-12 in 2002. Evansville North won its first sectional game since the 2007 season.
In his first year guiding the program, the seniors fought hard to lay down a foundation for a turnaround.
“We talked about building a program. We’ve talked to our seniors about it all season since the start of the offseason,” Herrin said. “To build a family, you have to trust each other and work hard. They’ve worked hard and put us in position. We’ve lost five games by a touchdown or less. I’m asking the young guys to honor these guys next year so let’s get over the hump and win games for these seniors.”
Evansville North 33, Terre Haute South 28
Terre Haute South 0 14 0 14 — 28
Evansville North 7 6 13 7 — 33
EN — Malik Butler 39 run (Zach Turi kick), 4:36 1Q
THS — LaMarkis Stevenson 31 pass from Timmy Herrin (Carter Hall kick), 11:32 2Q
THS — Herrin 20 run (Hall kick), 6:27 2Q
EN — Butler 1 run (run failed), 0:0.8 2Q
EN — Mason Jenkins 5 pass from Jesse Millikan (Turi kick), 6:43 3Q
EN — Butler 48 pass from Millikan (kick failed), 5:01 3Q
EN — Millikan 1 run (Turi kick), 5:34 4Q
THS — Jacob Johnson 85 kickoff return (Hall kick), 5:19 4Q
THS — Justin Jenkins 20 pass from Herrin (Hall kick), 3:18 4Q
First downs 21 19
Passing yards 305 184
Rushes-yards 24-63 40-197
Comp-att-int 20-37-1 14-20-0
Punts-avg 2-31.0 3-29.3
Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-1
Penalties-yards 6-50 6-40
Return yards 0 5
Rushing — Terre Haute South, Logan Deady 10-43, Herrin 9-15, Ian Newton 3-11, Jenkins 1-3. Evansville North, Maalik Butler 16-77, Jesse Millikan 16-46, Ford Johnson 2-35, Chase Whitler 2-8, Ryan Wargel 2-12, Mason Jenkins 2-2.
Passing — Terre Haute South, Herrin 19-34-1 299, Deady 1-1 6. Evansville North, Millikan 14-20-0 184.
Receiving — Terre Haute South, LaMarkis Stevenson 4-78, Justin Jenkins 4-96, , Jacob Johnson 4-63, Carter Hall 2-26, Jonathan Rogers 2-7, Ian Newton 1-17, Deady 2-(-4), Herrin 1-6. Evansville North, Butler 5-78, Jenkins 2-22, Whitler 2-28, Wargel 3-36, Zach Turi 1-11, Ty Winchell 1-15.
Next — Terre Haute South finishes its season 2-8. Evansville North (3-7) plays Friday at Terre Haute North in the sectional championship.