PERRY TOWNSHIP — Perry began Friday’s Northwest Central Conference football matchup with visiting Hardin Northern on a strong note, mounting a 13-play, 80-yard scoring drive on the game’s opening drive to take an early 6-0 lead.
However, that opening scoring drive by Perry proved to be one of few highlights for the Commodores as Hardin Northern rolled to a convincing 42-12 victory over Perry.
With the win, Hardin Northern improves to 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the NWCC. Perry falls to 1-4 overall and 1-3 in league play.
Perry mounted the 80-yard scoring drive on the very first possession of the game. Quarterback Hunter Scott connected with Jason Thomas for a 20-yard TD pass. With a missed extra point, Perry had the early 6-point lead.
Hardin Northern answered.
On the Polar Bears’ first possession, they were forced to punt.
However, Perry fumbled the punt, and Hardin Northern got the football back on Perry’s 20-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Nolan Hopson ran it in from 18 yards to score. With the point-after, Hardin Northern led 7-6 with 4:11 left to play in the opening stanza.
Perry never led again.
By halftime, the Polar Bears extended their lead to 28-12. Late in the third quarter, Hardin Northern led by 30 points.
“We gave them some first downs on penalties (in the first half), and we really didn’t tackle very clean,” Hardin Northern head coach Jerry Cooper said. “They (Perry) got the first score. Then from that point on, I think our kids played pretty well. After that (first score by Perry), we kind of settled in a little bit.
“But we did not have enough energy, and not enough execution. We’ll have to get back and see if we can play a little better football than we played tonight.”
Penalties hampered Hardin Northern. For the game, the Polar Bears were whistled 10 times for 103 yards. Perry was penalized six times for 27 yards.
For the game, Hardin Northern’s offense churned out 188 total yards (150 rushing, 38 passing).
Bo Bame led the way for the Polar Bears on the ground, rushing for 48 yards on 11 carries and had a 10-yard TD run.
Hardin Northern quarterback Nolan Hopson rushed for 44 yards on nine carries and had an 18-yard TD scamper. Hopson was 5 of 8 passing for 38 yards. Hopson also had an 83-yard kick-off return for a TD, late in the first half.
On the defensive side of the football, Hopson had an interception in the first half.
Cooper praised the performance of his players, especially after falling behind early on. He also gave credit to the play of Perry, especially Jason Thomas. On the night, Thomas had nine catches for 97 yards and had two 20-yard TD passes from quarterback Hunter Scott (14 of 23 passing, 123 yards, 2 interceptions).
“A big part of the first half, No. 10 (Jason Thomas) was their best athlete on the field,” Cooper said. “He made a couple nice plays, that we didn’t defend very well. … He just made us look bad. But we’ll see if we can get those things corrected. We’ll see if we can play a little better football come next Friday night.”
On the ground, Isaiah McFadden led Perry with 44 yards on 19 carries.
As a team, Perry rushed for 73 yards on the night.
Cooper, a veteran head coach, is in his first season as the Hardin Northern head coach. He feels that his team is improving as the season progresses.
“We were missing Carter Curtis (senior tailback). He didn’t play, tonight,” Cooper said. “He should be back next week.
“I think we’re getting better. There is some of that blocking scheme stuff that is getting better, and we’re getting a little better understanding. We just have to be a little cleaner.”
Hardin Northern 42, Perry 12
Score by quarters:
Hardin Northern`07` 21 `14 `00–`42
Perry` 06` 06` 00` 00`–` 12
Perry: Jason Thomas 20 pass from Hunter Scott (kick failed)
Hardin Northern: Nolan Hopson 18 run (Nolan Hopson kick)
Hardin Northern: Bo Bame 18 run (Nolan Hopson kick)
Perry: Jason Thomas 20 pass from Hunter Scott (pass failed
Hardin Northern: Nolan Hopson 83 kick-off return (Nolan Hopson kick)
Hardin Northern: Bodi Hipsher 1 run (Nolan Hopson kick)
Hardin Northern: Kruz Curtis 13 run (Nolan Hopson kick)
Hardin Northern: Alexander Wilson 6 run (Nolan Hopson kick)
Hardin Northern `Perry
11`First downs `9
188 `Total yardage `196
150` Rushing yardage` 73
38 `Passing yardage `123
5-8-0 `Passing (Com-Att-Int) `14-23-2
1-0 `Fumbles-Lost` 2-1
2-36.5` Punts-Average` 2-24.5
10-103 `Penalties-Yards` 6-27
Passing: Hardin Northern-Nolan Hopson 5-8-38; Perry-Hunter Scott 14-23-123.
Rushing: Hardin Northern-Bo Bame 11-48; Perry-Isaiah McFadden 19-44.
Receiving: Hardin Northern-Alexander Wilson 3-20; Perry-Jason Thomas 9-97.