NEW CARLISLE — Last season, La Porte dominated the line of scrimmage in the annual matchup against New Prairie.
This year, the Cougars returned the favor, controlling both lines of scrimmage on Friday night in both teams’ season opener.
As a result, New Prairie jumped ahead 14-0 early in the second quarter, and never trailed in the 42-14 romp over the county rival Slicers at Amzie Miller Field.
“We’ve been working hard the last two or three weeks, just scouting La Porte,” the Cougars’ Dan Tyler said. “We have great coaches. They work their tails off to get us where we need to be. They hold us accountable.
“It feels amazing.”
With the win, New Prairie (1-0) re-gained possession of the Milk Jug, a traveling trophy given to the winner of this game. It’s the Cougars’ first victory over the Slicers (0-1) since 2013.
“We’ve taken our own success for granted,” La Porte coach Dave Sharpe said. “We kind of assumed we could call a couple of traps, a couple of bucks, a couple of keepers, and we’re just going to magically score 40 points a game. New Prairie kindly reminded us, it’s not that easy. We have to earn every inch.”
Besides dictating play at the line of scrimmage, the Cougars pounced on some Slicer mistakes, including turnovers and some untimely penalties.
And they finished with 283 yards rushing and 358 yards of total offense.
“They’re very young,” New Prairie coach Russ Radtke said of his team. “We’ll have some ups and downs. But my gosh, when they get fired up, they do a pretty good job.”
To open the scoring, Tyler had a 36-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter and had a nifty spin move on the play. That followed the Cougars stopping La Porte on fourth down and 7 from New Prairie’s 17-yard line. It took the Cougars only four plays to drive 84 yards.
After New Prairie’s defense then stuffed the visitors, it forced a punt, where the Slicers had a poor punt after a snap over the punter’s head. The home team capitalized, marching 40 yards in just three plays, capped by Tyler’s 1-yard TD dive early in the second period. That put New Prairie ahead 14-0.
La Porte quickly answered, driving 73 yards in seven plays, pulling within 14-7 after Isaac Alexander’s 37-yard TD run up the middle.
But on the Slicers’ next drive, they fumbled deep in their own territory, and the Cougars took advantage. Cade Boniface recovered the key fumble, setting up his team at La Porte’s 22. New Prairie then pushed its lead to 21-7 following quarterback Chase Ketterer’s 6-yard touchdown run.
The Cougars’ defense then stopped the Slicers again, getting the ball back on downs, including Dylan Rose’s tackle for loss on third down. They followed with a beautiful 75-yard TD pass by Ketterer to Tyler. That made it 28-7 with 1:53 left in the first half. New Prairie led by the same 21 points at half.
To begin the third, it took the Cougars a mere one play to score after a punt. Ketterer darted 73 yards to pay dirt down the left sideline, giving the home squad a commanding 35-7 advantage.
Chris Mays led New Prairie with 110 yards rushing and a TD, and Ketterer was right behind with 102 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.
Tyler scored three touchdowns three different ways, on a rush, a reception, and on a 67-yard fumble return late in the third.
So how much pride does Tyler take in doing multiple things on the football field and score at the same time?
“It’s a team sport, it’s not just all one guy,” Tyler said. “I can’t make every play, but I like to contribute where I can. I got the ball in my hands a couple times tonight and I made it happen.”
Tyler was also the leading Cougars’ tackler with 13.
Boniface caused and recovered a fumble, and he finished with 11 tackles. Kyle Weber and Michael Klemczak each had nine tackles.
Defensively, the back Boniface said New Prairie’s defense pulled together and gelled at the right time.
“We just came together as a team and really became one,” Boniface said. “Last year, we always had parts here and there. But now, we have a good football team. And we’re looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Alexander paced the Slicers with 77 yards rushing and a TD, and Mickey Oswald had 48 yards on the ground.
Alexander added a 35-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the fourth.
Radtke was impressed with his squad’s offensive line.
“They’re some sophomores and a freshman, and there’s another freshman waiting for the opportunity to play, too,” Radtke said. “It’s a tough situation, but to have done it in the heat, on a night like tonight, we had to kind of spread it around among a lot of different guys, and not play too many.”
On the other side, the Slicers will aim to re-group when they host Hobart next Friday night.
“We still have a chance to be a pretty good team by the end of the season,” Sharpe said. “We’ll find out a lot when we watch the film.”
NEW PRAIRIE 42, La PORTE 14
La Porte`0`7`0`7`— 14
New Prairie`7`21`14`0`— 42
NP — Tyler 36-yard run (Szymanski kick), 2:59.
NP — Tyler 1-yard run (Szymanski kick), 11:55.
LP — Alexander 37-yard run (Robles kick), 9:49.
NP — Ketterer 6-yard run (Szymanski kick), 4:25.
NP — Ketterer 75-yard pass to Tyler (Szymanski kick), 1:53.
NP — Ketterer 73-yard run (Szymanski kick), 7:56.
NP — Tyler 67-yard fumble return (Szymanski kick), 3:47.
LP — Alexander 35-yard fumble return (Robles kick), 8:42.
Time of Possession`32:52`15:08
RUSHING- La Porte (Alexander 12-77, TD, Oswald 15-48, Bergquist 9-43, Kirkham 13-24, Kuzdas 8-14, Halaschak 2-4, Team 3-0), New Prairie (Mays 9-110, TD, Ketterer 13-102, 2 TD, Tyler 2-45, TD, Groves 3-14, Siford 2-9, Scott 1-2, Fronk 1-1).
PASSING- La Porte (Kirkham 2-5-0, 30), New Prairie (Ketterer 1-2-0, 75, TD).
RECEIVING- La Porte (Bergquist 1-27, Kubaszyk 1-3), New Prairie (Tyler 1-75, TD).