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THE Columbus North defense took impressive strides against visiting Bloomington North on Friday in the Conference Indiana opener.
Unfortunately, the Bull Dogs offense couldn’t get any sustained effort in a 19-14 loss to the Cougars.
After repeatedly turning away the Cougars throughout the second half, North was victimized once again by a big play.
Bloomington North took over after stuffing the Bull Dogs’ offense for a first down at the North 48. On third-and-eight from the 46, Bloomington North slot back Alex Richardson took a middle screen and broke free to run all the way for the touchdown.
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The Bull Dogs (0-3, 0-1) had one final opportunity, but quarterback Michael Vogel’s fourth-down pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage, falling incomplete with 1:34 remaining.
Bloomington North (2-1, 0-1) ran the clock out after taking over on downs.
It was another frustrating day for North coach Tim Bless and his players, who saw game-changing type plays on offense slip through their fingers. Vogel, who threw for 124 yards, saw some perfectly thrown balls hit the ground.
Bloomington North got on the board on its opening drive when tailback Hunter Jastremski, who was almost tackled in his backfield, cut back across the field and out-raced the North defense for a 54-yard touchdown run. The extra point was missed and Bloomington North led 6-0.
North answered with a grinding drive that covered 67 yards and was capped by Kaleb Steele’s five-yard touchdown run. With the extra point, North led 7-6.
Again the Cougars answered with a quick scoring drive, with Drew Ludwig taking a 64-yard touchdown pass in stride from quarterback Jack Smith after he out-ran North defense. A missed two-point conversion put Bloomington North up 12-7.
It appeared that Columbus North’s defense, which had been victimized by big plays all season, was going to have another tough night. Instead, the Bull Dogs made big play after big play, turning back Bloomington North scoring attempts. The Cougars didn’t get in the end zone again until the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, it appeared Columbus North’s offense was gaining steam. North marched 70 yards in the second quarter to take a 14-12 lead headed into halftime. Weston Moore caught a beautiful 11-yard fade pass from Vogel for a touchdown.
However, the Cougars held Columbus North scoreless in the second half.
Steele rushed 67 yards on 15 carries to lead a Columbus North ground game that couldn’t keep the chains moving. Bull Dogs fullback Jonathan Byers gained 49 yards on 13 carries.
Columbus North did drive to Bloomington North’s 19-yard line to start the second half, but Collin Ebel’s 34-yard field goal attempt was just wide.
On Columbus North’s final drive, Vogel converted a fourth down and four play with a seven-yard pass to Jared Newkirk, but he couldn’t do the same on the next set of downs.
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