Memorial runs away from Wildcats early

Traci Westcott/The Herald
Jasper's Carson Park attempts to tackle Memorial's Colton Pence during Friday's football season opener at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium in Jasper. Memorial defeated Jasper 35-20. For more photos from the game, click here.


JASPER -- “We have to be better.”

Those were the words from new Jasper head coach Tony Lewis to his team following an opening season loss to visiting Evansville Memorial Friday night at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium.

Memorial raced out to a 35-0 lead at the half en route to a 35-20 win over the Wildcats.

The entire second half was played with a running clock under the new IHSAA rule this season which states after a team is ahead by 35 points or more in the second half, a continuous clock will be used.

“That is a good team, a really good team,” Lewis said of the Tigers. “But we also made them look a little better by all of our mistakes.”

Jasper turned the ball over three times in the first half. The Tigers cashed in on the miscues for 21 points, including a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown by Mason Auker.

After receiving the opening kickoff, Memorial needed just eight plays to cover 80 yards for a 7-0 lead.

Colton Pence hooked up with Dawson Hurley for a 30-yard score with 9:50 left on the clock capping the opening drive.

The Wildcats opening drive started out promising as dual-threat quarterback Nathan Rillo scampered 11 yards for a first down on the first play from scrimmage.

Three plays later, the Tigers forced a punt.

Jasper then forced a quick three-and-out to get the ball back, but the momentum was quickly halted when Memorial forced the first of four turnovers three plays later.

The Wildcats defense looked to have made a stand as they forced Memorial into a 3rd-and-goal from the 27, but Pence and Hurley teamed again for a 27-yard strike in the back of the end zone.

Brock Combs gave the Tigers a 21-0 lead as he broke a handful of tackles en route to a 23-yard rumble on 4th-and-inches.

“They made plays when they needed to and we did not,” Lewis said. “We had them in third-and-long and fourth down a few times and they would score or move the chains.

This is a game of four downs, not three...we have to play smarter.”

Finn McCool capped the first half scoring with an 8-yard rush with 2:35 left on the clock.

Memorial outgained the Tigers 117-17 in yards from scrimmage in the first half, while Jasper moved the chains just once.

“They just whipped us up front,” Lewis said of the Tigers. “One of our goals is to control the line of scrimmage but they were the ones who obviously accomplished that tonight.

“We just were not physical enough.”

Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Jasper High School seniors Reagan Egbert, left, Riley Merder and Regan Mundy dance as the band plays during Friday’s football season opener at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium in Jasper. Memorial defeated Jasper 35-20. For more photos from the game, click here.

With Memorial resting most of their defensive starters after the first possession of the second half, the Wildcats struck for a trio of touchdowns.

Rillo found Blake Mann behind the Tigers defence for a 46-yard scoring play ending the shutout.

Rillo scored from 30 yards out on a keeper before finding Ethan Lents for a 32-yard strike on the final play of the game.

“We challenged our kids to play with some pride in the second half and I thought we came out and played hard,” the Wildcats coach said. “I don’t know who all they had in there, probably not many of their starters, but our kids still finished hard and that is a positive we will take from this game.”

Rillo finished the game with 80 yards through the air, with two scores, and 76 more on the ground to lead the Wildcats offense.

Pence completed 11 passes for 110 yards and two scores for Memorial, while McCool rushed for 41 yards.

Jasper plays host to country rival Southridge next Friday.

“We have to do a better job as an entire staff and that starts with me,” Lewis said. “I have to do a better job of getting us prepared.”


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