ELNORA — Sometimes the difference between winning and losing can be one player.
North Daviess (5-6) junior running back Colton Lengacher was that player in North Daviess’ 33-14 sectional semi-final win against Tecumseh Friday evening at Cougar Valley.
Lengacher got started early, and the Tecumseh (6-5) defense had no answer for the Cougars star tailback all night. After forcing a punt on the Tecumseh opening drive, Lengacher carried the ball 11 times for 57 yards and a one-yard touchdown giving the Cougars a 6-0 early lead. The 11-play drive which featured Lengacher exclusively would be familiar sight for the Cougars offense.
“We planned on him getting between 30 and 40 carries,” said North Daviess head coach Scott Helms. “He’s a great back. He’s a work horse. Credit Tecumseh’s defense, because he never broke any long touchdowns.”
On the ensuing drive, the Braves offense tied the score at six, needing only two plays. Braves’ quarterback Adam Grannan got a break when his pass was tipped by a Cougar defender and receiver Spencer Jones caught the ball and found the end zone on the 59-yard pass play.
The first quarter would end with the score tied, but Lengacher continued his assault on the Braves defense as he had 127 rush yards after two offensive drives. With the Cougars faced with a fourth and goal from the two-yard line, quarterback Brady Helms found Doug Bays on a two-yard touchdown pass to give the Cougars a 13-6 lead.
After another punt from the Braves offense, Lengacher continued his dominant night on the ground, as he found the end zone for the second time on the night with a 21-yard scamper to increase the lead to 19-6.
The North Daviess defense forced their third punt of the night and the Cougars offense had possession at their own 45-yard line. Logan Turpin’s 25-yard first down run got the Cougars into the red zone, and Lengacher went to work again.
The junior’s next two runs got the North Daviess offense to the six-yard line, before two consecutive holding calls pushed them back to their own 25. One Turpin run and three Lengacher runs got the offense down to the one-yard line, but Lengacher couldn’t cross the goal line on fourth down as the half expired with the home team holding a dominating 13-point advantage. In total, Lengacher had 248 yards on 31 carries and two touchdowns. Helms emphasized that while Lengacher had a great game, this was a team effort.
“Our offensive line did a great job, it wasn’t all Colton (Lengacher),” Helms said. “The offensive line did a tremendous job tonight.”
As the second half got underway, the Braves defense got more of the same from Lengacher and the Cougars offense. The Tecumseh special teams attempted an onside kick, giving North Daviess great field position at their own 47-yard line. The 53-yard touchdown drive capped by a Lengacher gave the Cougars a 25-6 lead, all but ending the Braves chances of a comeback.
Grannan and the Tecumseh offense responded quickly with a 4-play touchdown drive ending with a Grannan to Jones 13-yard touchdown pass cutting the lead to 25-14. After North Daviess was forced to punt, Tecumseh turned the ball over on downs in four plays, giving the Cougars the ball back. The Cougars fourth touchdown drive of the night completely put the game out of reach as Helms ran it in from one-yard out to give the Cougars the winning margin of 33-14.
In holding the Braves to only 14 points, allowing only one touchdown in each half was a stark contrast from the season opening win against Tecumseh when the Cougars defense had trouble getting off the field as they allowed 28 points. Helms said he has noticed that his team has had trouble defending offenses similar to the one his own team operates, which incorporates a lot of running and some play action passes.
“We really struggle defending the play action pass,” Helms said. “Outside of the first quarter against Linton and their spread (offense) when we gave up three long touchdown passes, our pass coverage has been pretty good, other than at Springs Valley when we did not defend the play action pass at all.”
The win was the Cougars sixth straight victory against Tecumseh dating back to 2008. North Daviess will get a shot at revenge in the sectional championship next Friday against the Linton Miners. Linton won at the Cougar Valley 35-12 Sept. 21.
“We rushed for 270 yards in three quarters against them (Linton), the second through the fourth quarter,” Helms said. “We defended their passing game fairly well. We did pretty much what we did out here tonight, except we didn’t capitalize as often against Linton.”