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GREENSBURG — South Decatur and Tecumseh battled in a close contest through three quarters on Saturday afternoon. But the Cougars faltered in the fourth quarter, falling to the Braves, 30-19.
South Decatur quarterback Chris Johannigman was finding his favorite receiver, Matthew Gatewood, for big plays in the first half. Johannigman heaved bombs of 37, 31 and 39 yards to Gatewood, who rumbled into the end zone with his second and third catches. Gatewood accounted for all of the Cougar points by halftime, kicking the extra point after his first touchdown as his team went into the break down 14-13.
Aware of the need to avoid repeating the second half letdown of two weeks ago in Knightstown, the Cougars fought through the third quarter to score first and take a 19-14 lead on a run around the right end by Chris Meadows.
Tecumseh then took the ensuing kickoff and scored in only four plays and a few seconds more than a minute. The drive included a hook-and-lateral play for an 18-yard gain, followed by a 29-yard touchdown pass from Adam Grannan to Spencer Jones, which gave Tecumseh a lead it would never relinquish.
“Football is four quarters,” Johannigman said. “You can’t just play two.”
“(The) first half is always our half,” Gatewood said. “We just have to work on playing the whole game.”
The Cougars (2-3) were unable to capitalize on their chances to take control in the second half. They ended the third quarter with a promising drive that started on their own 35, then were turned back with Alex Hall’s interception of a Johannigman pass from the Tecumseh 26.
The first play of the fourth quarter was a 25-yard Gatewood field goal attempt following another Cougar drive that would have knotted the score at 22. The field goal attempt was low, blocked by the leaping Braves defensive line. Nothing seemed to go right for the Cougars after that play.
“I was in a hurry, I guess,” Gatewood said. “I muffed it.”
The Braves (3-2) pounced on the opportunity and drove all the way to the Cougar 1-yard line, but a bad shotgun snap over the head of Grannan that he had to cover at the 20-yard line stopped the drive and gave the Cougars new life.
A Spencer Jones interception of Johannigman’s pass on the next play set up the Braves deep in Cougar territory and contributed to a 7-yard touchdown run by Grannan that produced the final score.
Gaudy first-half passing statistics for South Decatur were reversed by Tecumseh in the second half, as the Braves found the adjustments that proved effective.
“They started double-teaming me, triple-teaming me, and it was hard to get open,” Gatewood said of Tecumseh’s second-half adjustments. Gatewood’s four first-half receptions for 111 yards fell to a single 4-yard catch in the second half.
Johannigman, who was 11 for 20 for 177 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, managed just 6 for 16 for 44 yards and two interceptions in the second half.
“They came out and manned us up on pass routes and jammed us,” Johannigman said.
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