By JON REITER
It wasn’t their prettiest or most dominant effort, but the Jeffersonville football team notched a 37-27 win over Evansville North last night to advance to next week’s sectional final over Castle, a 49-14 winner over Bedford North Lawrence.
“I said earlier, you worry about stats, you end up a loser,” Jeffersonville (8-3) coach Lonnie Oldham said. “Our stats weren’t what they’d be if it were dry out there tonight, but we still got it done, and we’re playing next week.”
The all-day rain that fell Friday turned Blair Field into a swamp, and the Red Devils took advantage behind the running of tailback Austin Hines and fullback/tight end Dionte Allen.
Evansville North took an early second-half lead, 30-27, as bruising Huskie fullback Duvante Lane scampered for a 28-yard touchdown run to cap their first drive of the second half.
Allen, who finished with 90 yards on nine carries, scored twice in the second half with touchdown runs of 24 and 2 yards, with the latter coming with just over six minutes remaining in the contest.
That touchdown came after the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Allen rumbled across the middle and dragged several North defenders with him for a 46-yard gain on first down that took Jeffersonville to point-blank scoring range.
Fridley, one of the state’s leading passers, only converted 13 of 28 passes for 164 yards a touchdown and an interception in the muck, but that helped give his squad enough offense to win.
“Austin and Dionte ran the ball pretty well for us tonight, and that last run by Dionte was pretty big,” Oldham said. “I still think we could have thrown the ball a little better tonight, but it was good we were able to do that well on the ground.”
A 26-yard field goal from Fahuwu Momoh gave the Red Devils an early 3-0 lead, but a 54-yard end around by Evansville North wideout Chase Whitler helped give the Huskies a 7-3 advantage with just over three minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Following the Whitler score, a lengthy Jeffersonville drive closed out the first quarter with the hosts at the Evansville North 6-yard line. On the first play of the second quarter, Hines punched it into the end zone and after the extra point the Red Devils led 10-7.
The Huskies (5-5), who were playing their first game of the season on a natural field, had difficulty on ensuing possessions holding onto the football. During their next drive, the pigskin squirted away from quarterback Max Mooney during a center exchange like it was covered with grease and Jeffersonville defensive back Damin Smith covered it up near midfield.
Following a couple of Dionte Allen runs, Fridley hit Jacquari Chandler for a 44-yard touchdown pass that helped give Jeffersonville a 17-7 lead. On the very next play from scrimmage, another bad snap to Mooney was recovered by linebacker Amil Haleem at the 30-yard-line.
An 18-yard touchdown run from Hines and Momoh extra point gave Jeffersonville a 24-7 lead with 10 minutes left in the first half, and the Red Devils looked poised to blow the game open after scoring three touchdowns in less than two minutes.
But the Huskies had other ideas.
“You know, it was 24-7 and I took a deep breath too,” Oldham said. “We probably shouldn’t have done that. They were a good team and that [Lane] took it to us.”
Mooney completed his first and only pass of the first half, a 61-yard touchdown strike to Whitler across the middle, on the second play of Evansville’s next drive and the margin was narrowed to 24-14 Jeffersonville. A Hines fumble gave the Huskies the ball right back at the 25, and a 12-yard run from Blake Howell and Zac Turi extra point brought the visitors to within 3 at 24-21, with eight minutes left in the half.
So both squads, after a fairly quiet first quarter in the rain, exploded for five combined touchdowns in the first 3:29 of the second quarter.
After that offensive explosion and the early second-half Evansville North touchdown, the Red Devils were able to play unspectacular but relatively mistake-free football — something they’ll have to duplicate next week against the No. 3 5A Knights.
“It’s going to be another test for us,” Oldham said. “They’ve had things their way, they’re undefeated and we’re going to have to go up there and play good football in order for us to win.”
CLASS 5A SECTIONAL 8
JEFFERSONVILLE 37, EVANSVILLE NORTH 27
Jeffersonville 3 21 6 7—37
Evansville North 7 14 6 0—27
J - Fahumu 26 FG, 3:59, 3-0 J.
EN - Whitler 54 run (Turi kick); 3:19, 7-3 J.
J - Hines 6 run (Fahumu kick); 11:55, 10-7 J.
J - Chandler 44 pass from Fridley (Fahumu kick); 10:34, 17-7 J.
J - Hines 18 run (Fahumu kick); 10:01, 24-7 J.
EN - Whitler 61 pass from Mooney (Turi kick); 9:09, 24-14 J.
EN - Howell 12 run (Turi kick); 8:31, 24-21 J.
EN - Lane 28 run (kick failed); 9:58, 27-24 J.
J - Allen 24 run (kick failed); 7:55, 30-27 J.
J - Allen 2 run (Fahumu kick); 6:26, 37-27 J.
Jeffersonville 39-301 (Hines 26-198, Allen 9-90, Fridley 4-13 ).
Evansville North 34-294 (Howell 16-99, Lane 13-106, Whitmer 3-57, Mooney 2-35),
Jeffersonville (13-28-164-1): Fridley 13-28-164-1. Evansville North 3-11-80-2) Mooney 3-11-80-2.
Jeffersonville: Chandler 5-104, Embry 2-23, Hines 3-4, Adkins 1-13, Allen 2-12. Evansville North: Whitmer 1-61, Stearns 1-8, Watters 1-11.