Anytime you can go into the lion’s den of Northern Kentucky football and come home with a win, a notch can be placed on your belt.
Coach Mark Carroll and his Harrison County High School football team can break out the leather tools and start notching, after the Thorobreds overcame turnovers and turned back home-standing Newport on Friday night 20-14.
“Our assistant coaches who played at Harrison County told our kids in the days leading up to the game about how tough it is to play up there,” said Carroll. “It’s definitely a big win for us to go up there and come away with a victory.”
Harrison County never led in the contest, until Austin Lucas pounced on a fumble in the Newport end zone in the third quarter to give the Breds the lead.
“Our defense played great, especially in the second half,” said the first-year head coach. “I thought all along that any success we would have in these first four games would be directly tied to how well we played defensively. Our offense is behind where we need to be, but is improving. I think by week five, we should be on schedule.”
After kicking off to the Wildcats to start the game, Harrison County forced a punt and took over on its own 33 yard line.
Harrison County moved the ball quickly down the field and appeared to be prepared to take the early lead. Quarterback Joe Korona was blind-sided on a running play however and coughed up the ball.
Newport’s Matthew Sheppard scooped up the ball and returned it 74 yards before being chased down and stopped by Josh Moss.
Three plays later, Newport QB Demetri Brown scampered into the end zone for a 6-0 lead.
On its first possession of the second quarter, Harrison County knotted the score on a nifty 13-yard run by Moss.
A Korona interception led to the go-ahead score by the Wildcats.
On a fourth-and-eight from the Harrison County 12 yard line, Brown’s toss to a receiver near the goal line was batted away by Caleb Reeder, but right into the hands of Rodney Orr in the back of the end zone. A two-point conversion made it 14-6 at halftime.
On its first two possessions of the second half, Harrison County moved the ball deep into Newport territory, but turned it over on downs both times.
On Newport’s first two possessions of the second half, they fumbled once to the Breds and Malcolm Thomas intercepted a pass.
After the second turnover, Harrison County cashed in.
Taking over on the Newport 28 yard line, Harrison County ran two plays down to the 16 yard line, then Korona hit Eric Lewis with a perfectly thrown fade pass to make it 14-12. Moss ran in the two point conversion to tie the score at 14-14.
“Newport was shading Malcolm’s side with a safety and that left Eric alone against their corner,” explained Carroll. “I think it is hard to cover either of those two guys one on one.”
Harrison County’s special teams pinned Newport on the ensuing kick-off on their 12 yard line.
Two straight running plays lost yardage back to the five yard line. On third down, Brown fumbled and Lucas picked it up in the end zone for the winning score.
“Our guys showed a lot of grit and determination,” said Carroll. “We didn’t help ourselves a lot and probably should have won by a more comfortable margin, but we will definitely take the win.”
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Korona struggled a bit more than he did in the previous two games with the Harrison County passing attack. The sophomore completed just 12 of 30 passes for 103 yards. He threw one interception and connected for one TD.
Moss was the Breds leading ground gainer. He carried 21 times for 90 yards.
Thomas had two interceptions on the night, and Eric Lewis added one to snuff out Newport’s last attempt to score late in the fourth quarter.
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Harrison County will have its hands full tomorrow night as the Breds entertain Scott High on Homecoming 2009 at the Harrison County Athletic Complex..
Though the Eagles are winless this season, Coach Carroll is very wary of the Breds next foe.
“They are another team from Northern Kentucky that plays good competition. They have good speed, are aggressive and could easily be 3-0 instead of 0-3.”
Scott is led by do-everything quarterback Zach Sowder. Sowder is far and away the Eagles leading ground gainer, averaging almost 200 yards a game rushing this season. He is less effective throwing the ball, but is still a threat.
“He does everything for them and has had outstanding games against each team Scott has played,” said Carroll. “Obviously we have to at least slow him down if we want to have a chance to win. This is far and away the best team we have played this year.”
Scott’s three losses have come to Conner (40-7), Cooper (28-27) and Bellevue (48-41).