Kenton Ridge didn’t dust off an old playbook at halftime Friday night, but the Cougars sure altered their game plan for the better in the second half.
Leaving behind a fast-paced attack and a passing game that led to three interceptions, the Cougars showed Northwestern another side of their aggressiveness.
The Cougars were all run, run, run with big backs Christian Smith and Zach Holt. And when Northwestern quarterback Hunter Houseman had thrown his 52nd and final pass, Kenton Ridge celebrated a 43-12 home victory and a 5-0 start.
Kenton Ridge coach Joel Marratta said Northwestern’s defense invited more running in the second half. And after quarterback Mitchell Schneider threw thee interceptions, running the ball was a good option.
“We didn’t change a thing,” Marratta said. “We were sleepwalking through the first half, and we came to play in the second half.”
Smith led the Cougars with 171 yards on 15 carries and scored a touchdown.
“I thought he had good vision tonight,” Marratta said. “We were able to get the zone read going and we were blocking it well. He made some great cuts and had a big night in the second half.”
The Cougars amassed 393 yards rushing on 45 attempts.
“I’d like to thank my line a whole lot,” Smith said. “Without them I don’t think I could have gotten anything out of today.”
Kenton Ridge entered Friday rated No. 7 in playoff points in Division III Region 10, but the Cougars are not ranked in the area’s top five.
“We’ve just got to keep on hustling and just keep on working every week to keep going where we’re going,” Smith said.
Schneider did throw three touchdown passes. He hit Brandon Davis for scores of 38 and 21 yards to lead the Cougars to a 14-6 lead.
Northwestern (3-2) has suffered consecutive defeats, but second-year coach Seth Whiting said his team is mentally strong enough to put it behind them.
“Obviously we’re disappointed tonight,” Whiting said. “We definitely felt like this was a game we should’ve won. Again, made some bad assignment mistakes on defense and dropped some touchdowns. You can’t drop touchdowns against good football teams.”
Houseman threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Tanner Maxel on the last play of the first half. They connected again on a 4-yarder to cut KR’s lead to 22-12 late in the third quarter. Houseman completed 25 of 52 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns. Max Oakes caught 11 passes for 122 yards.