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IN the first quarter of Friday night’s Homecoming Day game against Terre Haute South, Columbus North had an anemic running game.
By the fourth quarter, it couldn’t have been more powerful.
The Bull Dogs put together three clock-churning drives in the final period, leaning on the running of quarterback Michael Vogel and running backs Josh Holt and Jonathan Byers, to squeeze out a 21-20 Conference Indiana victory.
“We had to keep pressing away and running the ball and doing what we do,” Vogel said. “We kept running it straight up the gut with ‘Wedge,’ and me and Johnny were getting it, and then we’d give it to Josh, and he’d get the yards when necessary.”
North (2-3, 2-1) netted zero yards on 11 plays and trailed 7-0 with a third-and-nine from its own 37 when the first quarter ended. But a nine-yard Vogel-to-Wes Moore pass kept the drive alive, and the Bull Dogs would tie the game on a 1-yard run by Holt.
“I feel like we didn’t assert ourselves as a running threat in the first quarter,” Vogel said. “Once we said ‘Hey, let’s play Bull Dog football, we pounded the ball in the second quarter, and that opened up other things.”
The Braves (2-3, 1-2) caught a break when they bounced the second-half kickoff off a North player and recovered at their own 43. On the next play, Michael Watt ran 57 yards for a touchdown.
North answered on a 4-yard scoring run by Holt with 8:27 left in the third quarter. But Terre Haute South regained the lead when Timmy Herrin hit Jacob Johnson with a 50-yard scoring pass. A missed extra point left the score 20-14.
The Bull Dogs came right back with a 40-yard Vogel-to-Moore touchdown pass, with Moore dragging defenders the final 10 yards into the end zone. Collin Ebel’s extra point provided the third-quarter lead and the eventual final score.
The Braves had the ball three more times, but came up empty. Bull Dogs defensive back Logan Fox intercepted a pass at the North 5 to end one series and broke up a pass on fourth-and-7 from the Terre Haute South 34 to stop the Braves’ final threat.
“The first half was a battle; the second half was a battle,” Holt said. “We messed up on a few plays, but we made plays when we needed them. We should have been 3-1 going into this game, but we finally pulled out a close win.”
North had lost close games on its home field to Plainfield and Bloomington North.
“This year, we’ve had some games in the fourth quarter that we’ve lost, and last year, we had three or four games in the fourth quarter that we lost, and it feels good to be on the other end of that,” Vogel said.
“This feels great to prevail in a tight ballgame,” North coach Tim Bless said. “It shows the progress that this team is making. We’re growing up, we’re getting a little bit more seasoned, a little bit more established and made plays when we had to make plays, contrary to the other two close games that we didn’t win.”
Holt, making his second start at tailback, finished with 95 yards on 28 carries.
“By and large, it was our run game that was the difference maker,” Bless said. “But ultimately, our defense played a great game. Our defense kept making plays to keep us in the thing and help us prevail.
“It was a very tough opponent, but credit Terre Haute South because they had some beasts,” he said. “But credit our offensive line, our blocking personnel for staying the course and fighting for 48 minutes.”
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