ELNORA — It could have been two games worth of production for many ball carriers but North Daviess running back Ryan Webster’s 200-plus yards and in the first half Friday night during the Cougars’ first-round Sectional 40 contest with visiting Wood Memorial Friday night was just the beginning.
Webster’s production in the first half against the overmatched Tojans was 201 yards and three touchdowns on 13 rushes. Quarterback Jano Davis added the fourth first-half score for the Cougars, en route to a 64-0 shellacking of Wood Memorial to start tournament play. Webster, who recently took over the North Daviess career rushing record, finished the night with 294 yards and four touchdowns on 16 carries. He played less than three complete quarters.
Despite being stuck on 14 points for a considerable chunk of the first half, the Cougars eventually revved the engine and took off.
Davis kicked off to open the game and the Trojans fumbled while receiving the kick, allowing Cougar senior Rob Hammer to recover it at the 11 yard line. A few plays later, Ryan Webster carried it to the 5 yard line, before North Daviess punched it in on fourth down when Davis kept it and bulled his way over the goal line.
Davis kicked the extra point and, just like that, the Cougars were up 7-0 with 10:21 remaining.
North Daviess’ third series was keyed by Webster’s 50-yard jaunt and capped off by this 12-yard touchdown dash up the middle. Davis was successful on his second extra-point try of the game and North Daviess led 14-0 at the 3:40 mark in the opening stanza.
“We told our kids this week that Wood would come in here a lot stronger than they were when we wnet down there three weeks ago,” Helms said. “After we beat them, they won their next two ballgames.
“The score is not indicative of how tough that game was played,” Helms said. “We got a touchdown late in the first half to go up four scores and you have to gameplan much differently in the second half for a team that's up four instead of three scores.”
In the second quarter, Webster snapped off a 38-yard run to get into the red zone with just over 9:00 minutes left in the half, but a holding call on the Cougars moved the ball back to the 30 and Davis was sacked a play later for another loss of 10 yards. The result was a third-and-32 situation for North Daviess. The Cougars made a bad situation worse with a delay-of-game penalty to move the ball back yet another five yards.
After the Trojans had to punt the ball away again, the Cougars struck quickly once more as Webster raced through the Wood Memorial defense on first down and went almost untouched into the end zone. Davis concluded the scoring effort with the point-after and the Cougars extended the advantage to 21-0 with 4:50 to play before halftime.
Near the end of the half, Webster’s pair of 20-yard-plus runs set up Dalton Sellers’ 10-yard carry to the goal line. Sellers’ number was called again and he was stood up by the Trojans defense, but Webster took it in from a yard out on the next play with just under 15 seconds to go before intermission. The extra-point kick by Davis was dead-on to provide North Daviess with a 28-0 lead at the midway point.
The Cougars got things started with a bang in the second half when Webster took the ball around the right side and rambled 51 yards for his fourth touchdown of the game. Davis topped it off with his fifth extra-point boot.
North Daviess got it right back when Wood Memorial muffed the subsequent kick-off and senior Kendall Wittmer recovered it inside the 30 for the Cougars. North Daviess capitalized on the Trojans’ carelessness when Davis hit Cory Stuffle with a pass over the middle and the junior tight end hustled in from 26 yards out. Davis remained perfect in extra-point tries and staked the Cougars to a 42-0 lead at the 9:48 mark in the third.
A few minutes later, Clayton Byrer picked off a Wood Memorial pass and gave the Cougars the ball again. On the first play from scrimmage for North Daviess, Davis carried the ball to near midfield but a Trojans personal foul — their second of the quarter — at the end of the play moved the ball 14 yards ahead. From there, Sellers went around the right end and raced 38 yards to the 6-yard line. Sellers then finished off the quick drive by taking the pitch and sprinting in for the score. Davis’ seventh extra-point kick made it 49-0 with 6:53 to play in the third.
Later, Webster went 41 yards to get to the 1-yard line and Hammer got a rare carry to take it in for the Cougars with 5:26 to go in the third. Davis was accurate yet again with the extra point and North Daviess had a 56-0 advantage.
North Daviess went primarily with reserves but played add-on in the fourth quarter when Isaiah Swartzentruber raced 23 yards for a touchdown. Clayton Byrer added the point-after to stretch the lead to 64-0 with 10:13 to play.
The Cougars will most likely be playing Perry Central.
“It will be a 48-minute game. We have a lot of respect for the Perry Central program and it will take our best game of the season to win it,” Helms said. “It will probably be a defensive struggle for both teams.”
Advance-sale tickets for next week’s second-round Sectional 40 game will go on sale at 8 a.m. Monday at the school. Students riding a North Daviess fan bus to the game must buy a ticket in advance.