Terre Haute North’s Ricky Brookins put together 158 yards from scrimmage to lead the Patriots — looking for their first Conference Indiana victory in three tries — out to a 23-3 lead at Bloomington North.
The Patriots (3-2, 1-2) would pull away for a 44-23 win behind a dominant performance by the senior running back. Brookins had 27 carries for a career-high 274 yards to go with a 60-yard touchdown catch.
“We knew we could run on them; a lot of second effort on my part, but the downfield blocking was excellent, gotta give them credit for that,” Brookins said.
After a couple close and heartbreaking losses to open league play, Brookins said the Patriots were hungry to get in the win column.
“It’s stiff competition in this conference,” Brookins said. “We were determined to break through tonight.”
As steady as Brookins was, leading North to 534 yards of total offense, the North defense was dependable and explosive as well.
The Patriots’ defensive unit held Bloomington North (3-2, 2-1) without a first down until the final minute of the first quarter. The Patriots also took advantage of two errant snaps by the Cougars’ long snapper.
Brookins punched it into the end zone from 3 yards out after two first down runs following one snap over the punter’s head. The second bad snap rolled into the end zone, where the Cougars recovered for a safety that made it 16-0 Terre Haute North.
Patriot linebacker Wyatt Stoelting, who also had a first-half sack, picked off a Jack Smith pass and returned it 16 yards for Terre Haute North’s second score of the game.
Brookins reached paydirt for Terre Haute North’s third touchdown, taking a screen pass from Chris Barrett II and navigating through some traffic before scooting down the sideline for a 60-yard TD reception.
That was Brookins’ 10th touchdown of the season but first receiving.
“He’s just a hard worker and a great kid, everything you want in a player,” coach Chris Barrett said. “He’s doing a much better job of reading his blocks and being patient. Our line did an outstanding job. It was good to get some things going offensively against a good football team, and they were a good football team.”
The screen play also gave Barrett II his fifth touchdown pass of the season.
Barrett II had just one interception going into Friday’s game, but he tried to force a pass into coverage on 3rd-and-8 just past midfield with under two minutes before halftime.
Bloomington North’s Austin Davidson picked it off and returned it deep into Patriots’ territory, but the Terre Haute North defense held its ground. The Cougars’ kicker Brock Elmore lost his footing on a 32-yard field goal attempt and pulled it wide left.
That could have made the game a close one, because a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Alex Richardson had followed the Brookins touchdown reception.
Terre Haute opened the second half with a 59-yard drive that spanned 11 plays and 5 minutes, 4 seconds. Barrett II had a pair of first-down runs in addition to an 11-yard first-down burst by Kai Stratten.
“We put back-to-back-to-back drives together and that’s something we hadn’t done,” coach Barrett said. “It was nice to get the clock moving.”
Barrett finished with 63 yards rushing, scrambling for 32 yards in the fourth quarter to help North run out the clock.
Sophomore receiver Logan Grim capped the drive with an 8-yard run on a reverse play for a touchdown.
Stratten added touchdown runs of nine and 15 yards to finish with all of his 46 rushing yards in the second half.