Wildcats run wild to cage Tigers in blowout

Photos by Kaiti Sullivan/The Herald
Jasper's Blake Mann dives for the end zone during Friday's football game in Jasper. Jasper defeated Princeton 56-7. For more photos from the game, click here.


JASPER ­— With Jasper making the move from the Big Eight Conference to the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference next year, Friday was the final time the Wildcats will play Princeton.

And the Tigers have no complaints.

The Wildcats looked like men among boys at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium, bashing Princeton all night and scoring at will, as Jasper rolled to a 56-7 rout of the Tigers.

It was the first game in four weeks for the Wildcats back in the friendly confines of their home stadium, and the return to Joe Rohleder Field was welcome.

The Wildcats scored on each of their four possessions in the first quarter, and added two more touchdowns in the second stanza for a 35-0 lead at halftime. Jasper then tacked on a score in each of the final two periods, scoring that was limited because of the running clock in the second half.

“It was a good game for us,” Jasper coach Tony Lewis said. “I thought both sides of the ball played well. I thought defense played well. We gave up some plays and had a few silly penalties. We were fortunate that they did not catch a couple of the deep balls, but, overall, I thought we played well defensively. Offensively, obviously, our running game was good. We had a big pass completion called back on a penalty. Credit goes to our offensive line, I hope our backs understand that, and our quarterback understands that. The offensive line played well.”

As dominate as the Wildcats were from start to finish, Lewis is looking to get even more from his charges.

“We’re trying to get a little bit better every week, and I thought offensively our mesh points on the option were better this week, our option game was better than it was last week, so we’ve got to continue to get better for next week as well. This is an offense we put in the second week of the year, because we thought it would be best for our players, so we’re continuing to tweak a few things weekly. I think our kids are getting used to it, they’re starting to realize it can be a fun offense to play. Option football, when it’s run well, is really tough to stop. We ran it well tonight, and we need to improve on it for Washington.”

Jasper, 3-3 overall and 3-0 in Big Eight play, is off this week before traveling to Washington Oct. 11, and Lewis welcomes the extra week to fine tune his team.

“We’re going to take that extra week and work to get better as a team. With the extra week, we can go back and work on the fundamentals of blocking and tackling, because we’ve got to get better at that as well.”

The Wildcats returned the opening kickoff to midfield, where Elliott Hopf reeled off a 34-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. Blake Mann then raced the final 17 yards to paydirt for Jasper’s first touchdown of the night less than a minute into the contest. Jackson Kabrick booted through the first of his eight PATs on the night.

After holding Princeton to one yard on four plays, Jasper took over again at midfield. Mann ran 10 yards, Lance Dawkins used two carries to cover 14 yards, and Mann streaked the final 22 yards for another touchdown for all the points the Wildcats would need for the win with 7:58 showing.

A Princeton player tackles Jasper's Isaac Day during Friday's football game in Jasper. Jasper defeated Princeton 56-7. For more photos from the game, click here.

When the Wildcats got the ball back after a Tiger punt, it looked as if Princeton would get on the bus and leave before the end of the quarter. Mann completed a pass to Andrew Wallace for an apparent 64-yard score, but an illegal blocking penalty brought the ball back, but merely delayed the inevitable. Two plays later, Joe Wood took off on a 58-yard jaunt for Jasper’s third touchdown with 4:48 to go in the opening period.

A Princeton punt four plays into its next possession sailed 34 yards and into the hands of Isaac Day, who returned the kick 31 yards, resulting in a three-yard net play for the Tigers at the Princeton 29 yard line. Three plays later, Mann burst through for a 27-yard touchdown run, and the Wildcats had a gaudy 28-0 cushion.

On Jasper’s second possession of the second quarter, Dawkins ran for 33 yards to the Princeton 20 yard line, then punched the ball six yards closer on his next carry. Hopf then took the pigskin the final 14 yards for a 35-0 score with 8:19 left before halftime.

With six minutes to go in the quarter, the Tigers accomplished something they hadn’t until that point — the Princeton offense reached Jasper territory. But the stay didn’t last long. A Tiger fumble was recovered by Sam Kluemper at the Jasper 41 yard line, setting up the Wildcats’ final touchdown of the half.

After Jasper converted a fourth-down play at midfield, Day rumbled 45 yards to the endzone to make it a 42-0 laugher at intermission.

Although the Wildcats flooded the field with reserves to start the second half, the result was the same. On Jasper’s second snap of the half, Case Eckert raced 47 yards to make it 49-0 with 5:22 showing.

Princeton used a 20-play drive from the third quarter into the fourth to cover 78 yards and find paydirt for its only time with 5:55 to go.

But Jasper answered with two runs by Will Weinzapfel for 10 yards, then Eckert set sail on a 68-yard cross-country gallop that came up just two yards short of the goal. Two one-yard carries later, and Eckert was in the endzone for the game’s final points just 1:40 before the end.

“I thought Blake Mann had a heckuva game,” Lewis praised. “Both our backs — Elliott Hopf ran really well, I thought Lance Dawkins ran well, and when Case Eckert came in, he may have had the most yards of anybody. He ran extremely well. Again, the credit goes back to our offensive line and our tight ends.”

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