LYNNVILLE — A stifling North Daviess defense threw the football equivalent of a shutout Friday night at the new Tecumseh Braves field, as the Cougars claimed the opening Friday night lights contest 42-2. Save for a late third quarter two-point safety, the visitors kept the home team from shifting the fresh bulbs on the south scoreboard. Meanwhile, ND utilized its passing, running, special teams and defense to pile up the points and avenge a season-ending loss in tourney play one year ago.
Junior signal caller Tanner Reed worked through early first quarter jitters to account for nearly 300 passing yards, though many of that total came via the legs of his receivers following the tosses. The inaugural strike of the 2019 campaign came at the 5:18 mark of the first frame when he hit classmate Joshua Krusenklaus for a 43 yard touchdown. The play had been preceded by an earlier fumble recovery from senior Matthew Keith. Tailback DJ Owens flipped to senior Kirk Wagler for the conversion and early 8-0 advantage.
The Cougar defense thwarted the Braves best chance late in the initial quarter. Looking at first and goal from just inside the 10, North Daviess revealed their mettle as THS was stranded in the same spot four plays later. One snap into the second stanza, at the 11:13 mark, Owens juked 57 yards to the end zone with freshman Austin Webster converting the two-point follow himself for a 16-0 lead.
The rushing combination of Chase Webster, Jake Miley and Ted Lamson created another cough-up on Tecumseh’s next series, but Reed would return the favor for ND’s first miscue. Both sides would experience empty possessions before a strip from junior Daryn Lengacher and second fumble recovery by Keith. With just 1:54 before intermission, Reed found Lamson for 48 yards untouched and the 22-0 lead. Reed, Krusenklaus and Owens continued their offensive fireworks in the final minute — the latter toting from 14 yards out with only two ticks remaining to go up 28-0 at half.
The game featured more Krusenklaus after the Braves halftime band performance, as the junior took off for a 62-yard scamper at 8:14. Tecumseh’s defense put up their side’s only tallies on the safety a few minutes later.
However, on the ensuing free kick, the Braves committed another turnover when junior Justin Fox stripped the pigskin from the carrier and scooped the ball up for a 36-yard touchdown recovery. Webster’s short pass to Lamson for two more accounted for the final margin as the mercy rule kept the clock from stopping during the final period of play.
“Overall, we played well as a unit and made some big stops when we needed to. We turned them over on downs two or three times after they converted some long pass plays. When you look at our personnel, we have guys who have never played, guys who are freshmen, guys who haven’t played in a while. And all of those guys really contributed, but the guys I have back on both sides of the ball, they really worked hard and competed and continue to lead this team. It was a good start,” said second year coach Trent Fine.
The Cougars hit the road again Friday as they travel to North Central Farmersburg. The T-Birds lost to West Vigo, a week-five opponent for ND. Game time is 7 p.m.