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  • Val T.

Here’s the dirt: Winamac commits 5 turnovers in sectional semifinal loss to North Judson

Brandt’s fumble return, Jones’ TD catch not enough at muddy Roudebush


Sports Editor, RTC

WINAMAC –- It’s about 45 minutes after their Class 1A, Sectional 41 semifinal against North Judson has ended Friday, and Winamac senior lineman Jaxon Roudebush kneels down near midfield at Roudebush Field.

He stares at the scoreboard, but there is nothing to learn. The scoreboard had been turned off a long time ago. There are no more fans in the stands.

There is nothing to make sense of anymore.

An unidentified assistant coach, who is standing, puts his arm around him. When a team has high hopes, some games just leave an empty void.

Cheyenne Allen scored four touchdowns – three rushing, one receiving – and Aldric Harper ran for a touchdown, threw a touchdown pass and returned an interception for the go-ahead touchdown as No. 14 North Judson beat No. 4 Winamac 40-13.

North Judson avenged a loss to Winamac in the 2020 sectional and improved to 7-3. They will host Culver in the sectional final next Friday. The Cavaliers advanced by shutting out South Central 18-0.

Winamac, a team where Roudebush represented a senior class consisting of 22 players, finished 8-1. Their undefeated regular season was their first in seven years.

Beau Brandt had a defensive touchdown on a fumble return, and Jadon Jones caught a touchdown pass for the Warriors.

“I’ve never had a group I wanted to leave,” Winamac coach John Hendryx said. “I’ve had teams with more seniors. It’s tough to have seniors go, and when you have a lot of them, it’s even harder. You get those relationships built with those kids, and it’s tough when you know you’re not going to see them at practice Monday. … I couldn’t have asked anything more out of this bunch.”

Winamac tied the game 13-13 on Russell Compton’s 67-yard touchdown pass to Jones with 3:57 left in the first half, but North Judson finished with 27 unanswered points.

The Warriors committed five turnovers. That included giveaways on four consecutive possessions in the second and third quarters.

The loss also extended North Judson’s control in this rivalry on Winamac’s home field. North Judson has won the last four meetings against Winamac at Roudebush Field by a combined score of 141-19.

North Judson has also won their last four postseason road meetings against Winamac, also winning sectional games there in 1998, 1999 and 2019.

Harper’s defensive score came with 35.4 seconds left in the first half.

With the game tied 13-13 and Winamac facing a third-and-14, Compton dropped back. With North Judson’s Brennan Benson and Harper running at him, Compton aimed a screen pass to his left intended for Brandt, but Harper reached behind him and snagged the pass and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown.

“He threw it about six inches lower than he should have,” Winamac coach John Hendryx said. “Six inches higher and we may have scored. Those things happen. We had exactly what we wanted. If he throws it that much higher, we’re running the other way for a long way.”

North Judson coach Brett Lambert said Harper read the play “perfectly.”

“To me, that was probably the play of the game right there,” Lambert said. “I really believe that. … I felt like that play was really what we needed. We felt great at halftime after that. We really did.”

On Winamac’s first possession of the second half, Hayden Clark gained five yards before he fumbled with North Judson’s Payton Roberts jarring the ball loose. Owen Frasure recovered at the Winamac 43.

After five straight runs, North Judson faced fourth-and-1 at the Winamac 24.

Allen went off the left side and broke two tackles and turned the corner along the sideline for a touchdown to make it 26-13.

On the fifth play of the ensuing possession, Harper picked Compton off again at the Winamac 46.

And with North Judson facing fourth-and-3 from the Winamac 21, Harper dropped back to pass while Allen slipped from his H-back spot wide open behind a defense that was expecting a running play. It resulted in a touchdown pass that made it 33-13.

Harper’s 3-yard touchdown run with 34.8 seconds left completed the scoring.

Meanwhile, the Winamac offense that came in averaging 37 points per game was held to zero points and four first downs in the second half.

The game was played in a light rain or mist through much of the first two quarters. Weather conditions had mutilated the field into a muddy mess in the two weeks since Winamac had last played a home game.

Uniform numbers, especially the white uniforms worn by North Judson, became quickly indistinguishable.

Afterwards, on a scale of 1 to 10, Hendryx gave the field quality a 1. He described the field conditions as “horrific.”

“This was our fear,” Hendryx said. “We’re built for speed. We’re not built to slosh. We’re just not. We got smallish, quick backs. They’re great at what they do. They’re not great at doing that. … Just not the conditions we wanted to be in, but hey, they were the same for both teams.”

Lambert said they avoided running plays in the direction of the Winamac sideline, which appeared to be especially bad. He described his team’s week of practice as “outstanding.”

“We held onto the ball for the most part,” Lambert said. “These conditions tonight were just atrocious. This field is completely ate up right now. We did an awesome job taking care of it. When we played Pioneer a couple weeks ago, we decided we had to rain-proof our offense. We had to run downhill, and that’s what we did tonight, and our backs made moves and made plays.”

An Allen 1-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal opened the scoring after North Judson recovered a Jones fumble after he had caught a shovel pass at the Blue Jay 48.

Winamac tied the game with 9:24 left in the half. Harper got stood up on an option keeper, and Brandt yanked the ball out of Harper’s arms and took it 73 yards for a score.

North Judson marched right back down and drove 65 yards in nine plays. The drive included a 45-yard Allen run on a draw on third-and-18, and a personal foul penalty on Winamac tacked on to the end of the play moved the ball to the Winamac 7.

Allen scored three plays later from the Winamac 2 on a cutback.

But on the second play of the ensuing drive, Compton found a wide open Jones on a deep wheel route for a touchdown. Max Murray’s extra point tied the game.

North Judson 40, Winamac 13

North Judson 6 14 13 7 – 40

Winamac 0 13 0 0 – 13

First quarter

NJSP – Cheyenne Allen 1 run (run failed)

Second quarter

WIN – Beau Brandt 73 fumble return (kick failed)

NJSP – Allen 2 run (Blay Gomez kick)

WIN – Jadon Jones 67 pass from Russell Compton (Max Murray kick)

NJSP – Aldric Harper 55 interception return (Gomez kick)

Third quarter

NJSP – Allen 24 run (kick failed)

NJSP – Allen 21 pass from Harper (Gomez kick)

Fourth quarter

NJSP – Harper 3 run (Gomez kick)

RTC area football scoreboard – Oct. 29

Mishawaka Marian 29, Tippecanoe Valley 0

North Judson 40, Winamac 13

Pioneer 18, Delphi 0

Culver 18, South Central (Union Mills) 0

TRC football scoreboard – Oct. 29

Mishawaka Marian 29, Tippecanoe Valley 0

Peru 30, Oak Hill 28 (2 OT)

Adams Central 56, Southwood 0

Triton 22, Northfield 13

Hoosier North football scoreboard – Oct. 29

North Judson 40, Winamac 13

Culver 18, South Central (Union Mills) 0

Pioneer 18, Delphi 0

LaVille 14, Bremen 6

Knox 39, River Forest 14

Triton 22, Northfield 13

RTC area football sectional finals schedule – Nov. 5

Pioneer at LaVille (2A, 34)

Culver at North Judson (1A, 41)

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