SOUTH BEND — Whether it was the emotional win over Penn a week earlier or the dreary arrival of autmun weather, New Prairie showed some maliase for a half against South Bend Riley on Friday at Jackson Field.
“(Riley) had a good defense,” Cougars coach Russ Radtke said. “They held us to end the half, and you take that with a couple touchdowns being called back from penalties, and it was tough for us to battle through the feelings that got us down.”
No cause for alarm, as Class 4A No. 1 New Prairie ran off four unanswered touchdowns after the Wildcats (4-4) drew within seven points in the third quarter to pull away for a 48-14 victory.
Wyatt Kmiecik's 88-yard kickoff return to pay dirt regain the momentum for the Cougars, who pitched a shutout the rest of the way.
Ketterer scored from 48 yards on the following drive after stringing three consecutive first downs on the ground. On New Prairie’s next offensive series, he moved the ball 47 yards in four plays, traversing the last 20 for yet another touchdown.
“Ketterer makes things happen,” said Radtke. “He calls the audibles in, throws good passes and makes the plays when we need him to.”
While Ketterer had the lion's share of the yardage, the Cougars (8-0) spread the scoring wealth. Kmiecik's 28-yard scamper across the field pushed the ball to Riley’s 30-yard line and Chris Mays did the rest to put the first points on the board.
After a Riley punt, Ian Skornog took a pitch on a Ketterer option read and ran 13 yards for another TD.
New Prairie blunted the Wildcats' first scoring threat in the second quarter, when Tyler Graeber recovered a fumble.
The Cougars seemed on their way to another runaway, but they were stopped short on a fourth and 5 in their own territory, giving Riley a short field. Timothy Brown's 7-yard toss to Chris White drew the Wildcats within 13-6.
A kickoff return for a touchdown was negated by a holding call and Riley made a goal-line stand late in the half to stay within a score at the break.
After halftime New Prairie gathered steam as a successful fourth-and-3 conversion by Ketterer set up Mays' second TD. Ketterer bashed his way in on the two-point conversion to make it 21-7.
Riley wasn’t done though. It continued a balanced attack on the next drive, which was heavily aided by Cougars penalties. The Wildcats scored on a 5-yard Brown pass to Sylvester Orozco and a near identical play on the two-point conversion made it 21-14.
Once NP took charge in the fourth quarter, the Cougars junior varsity was able to gain some valuable experience. Sophomore quarterback Aydan Roberts capped off the second-half scoring frenzy with a 1-yard run up the gut.
New Prairie will face Elkhart Central next week for the Northern Indiana Conference championship.
“That game starts our tournament run,” Radtke said.
New Prairie 48, South Bend Riley 14
Chase Ketterer ran for 255 yards and two touchdowns.