Jasper rallies in fourth quarter for win

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Jasper senior quarterback Blake Mann rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries as the Wildcats bested Evansville North, 23-16, on Friday. 

EVANSVILLE - Jasper football coach Tony Lewis estimated that the Wildcats (6-2, 6-2) must've done around 400-500 pushups in practice this week for not being able to do the little things right.

It must've been effective, seeing as Jasper notched not one, but two fourth quarter touchdowns when trailing Friday at Evansville North. Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat is an old expression that is often associated with football, and alas, it fit the Wildcats to a tee against the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference rival Huskies for a 23-16 triumph on Friday.

"I thought our defense just kept fighting, kept fighting, kept fighting," Lewis said.

Senior quarterback Blake Mann, just as he had done all night long, used his legs to make a difference for Jasper to the tune of 135 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown. He previously had the go-ahead score that put Jasper out in front, 13-9, before the Huskies responded for a 16-15 lead, but Mann kept on chugging.

Yet, it wasn't Mann that retook the lead for Jasper, it was junior Luke Dawkins as the Huskies keyed in on Mann. He put the Wildcats out in front for good, and senior Grant Mehringer made it a full-possession game by running it in for two with 36 seconds left.

"Luke Dawkins made a huge run, and it was a great call by Coach (Matt) Bajorek," Lewis said.

However, the Huskies still had time to try to orchestrate something. Senior back Capoleton Presswood already had two rushing touchdowns, including the one that tied the game for the Huskies, 15-15. His second run enabled sophomore Mitchell Renfro to boot the extra point to regain North's lead, and the Wildcats successfully held North off for the final 36 seconds.

The Wildcats were hardly without their mistakes, however. Jasper has often seen success on its opening drive this season, but had no such luck as a fumble led to junior TJ Hankins of the Huskies to scoop it up with 8:16 to go in the first quarter.

The Huskies were set up nicely on the subsequent kickoff return. North pushed until Presswood's two-yard goal line touchdown put the Huskies on the board with 2:27 to play. However, the Huskies could not connect on the extra point.

They did connect, though on a 39-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, after an offsides call enabled Renfro to connect as time expired to give the Huskies a 9-7 lead at the half.

"It's never going to be easy in this league, and our kids understand that we got to get better," Lewis said. "We still didn't execute, we didn't execute in special teams. We had a key penalty that gave them a field goal at the end of the first half that we cannot have, but most importantly, we competed until the end against a good team."

Jasper will be back Oct. 16 at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium for Senior Night against rival Vincennes Lincoln. Lewis knows the Wildcats have to have a great week of practice, as they'll seek to finish the regular season on a two-game win streak.

"We're excited about the opportunity to play our rivalry game, and it's Senior Night," he said. "We're excited to hopefully represent our senior class the right way."

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