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JEFFERSONVILLE — The way Luke Teague saw it, Friday night’s opening-round sectional game was a microcosm of Columbus North’s football season.
Get behind big early, rally to make it a game and fall in the end.
That was the case again Friday. The Bull Dogs fell behind by 18 points, battled back to take the lead with 3:14 left in the game and gave up two touchdowns in the final 2:18 to suffer a 30-22 loss at Jeffersonville.
“This game was based on all season long,” said Teague, the senior linebacker. “We’ve been down in a lot of games, and we keep fighting in the second half. We know we are going to come back and we have pride for each other.”
The game was reminiscent of two weeks ago, when North fell behind Bloomington South 28-0. This time the Bull Dogs, who finished 3-7, were down 18-0 just 18 seconds in the second quarter.
The Red Devils third touchdown came on a 99-yard drive after they stopped North on fourth and goal from the 1.
“That was a huge swing in the game because we were fighting and clawing our way back into the game at that point,” North coach Tim Bless said. “Had we punched it in there, you never know. You have to make plays when you have the opportunity.”
The Bull Dogs answered with a touchdown drive of their own. Josh Holt went over from the 2, then ran in the two-point conversation to cut the lead to 18-8 midway through the second quarter.
North got the ball back and went on another long scoring drive. Mitchell Kelley hit Wes Moore for a 23-yard touchdown on third-and-goal with 50 seconds left in the half and the lead was cut to 18-15 at halftime.
Kelley, who missed last week’s loss at Southport with hand and ankle injuries, suffered a head injury on the Bull Dogs’ first second-half possession and had to leave the game.
Bless turned to another sophomore, Wyatt Barkes, for two series before going with senior Michael Vogel, the starter for most of the past two seasons.
“Michael is such a good factor in our run game, we wanted to keep that continuity if possible,” Bless said.
North’s defense, meanwhile, shut down Jeffersonville (6-4) from the opening seconds of the second quarter until late in the fourth.
“We didn’t make too many big adjustments,” Teague said. “We just did what we do best. We kept making tackles and made them punt.”
The Bull Dogs finally took the lead after going on a 14-play, 63-yard drive, beginning with 8:35 left in the game and ending with 3:14 remaining. Barrett Branum had a key play in the drive, running 11 yards on a fake punt on fourth and nine that led to a Vogel to Moore seven-yard touchdown pass and a 22-18 North lead.
The Red Devils came right back, going 72 yards in seven plays in 53 seconds. Camaran Northern hit Dionte Allen for a five-yard scoring strike and a 24-22 lead with 2:18 left.
The Bull Dogs took over at their own 35 and managed one first down before Jeffersonville intercepted a pass and returned it to the North 15. Allen scored on the next play on a rush, and it was 30-22 with 1:15 left.
North still had a chance, but four incompletions later, the Red Devils took over and ran out the clock.
“I don’t have any answers for why two out of the last three weeks, we’ve come out and spotted the other team multiple touchdown leads before we decided we could compete and battle back,” Bless said. “On the bright side, a lesser bunch of boys would have folded, and it could have been a blowout. These guys battled back and put themselves in contention and from that aspect, I am very proud of them.”
“It’s very tough,” Teague said. “It stings pretty bad. But I know next year, those guys are going to own it.”
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