It was the first game of the 2013 football season, and for brief moments, it looked the part as Clarksville Academy had three first half turnovers.
But those miscues were the extent of the damage as the Cougars completely dominated its season opener, thumping Montgomery Central 42-7 Thursday night at Simpson Field at the Academy Sports Complex.
Clarksville Academy (1-0) made no secret from the start that it was going to pound the ball as quarterback Jacob Rugen and tailback Jaleel Stubbs dominated the first half. Stubb ran for 196 yards and three scores in the first half. That’s what he would finish with as he sat the second half. Rugen had 93 yards on the ground himself in the first two quarters and ran the ball another 10 times in the second half and finished with 189 yards and a score. He also tossed a 5-yard TD in the third quarter.
“He glides, man,” Academy coach Todd Hood said about Stubbs. “He doesn’t look like he’s running very fast, but he gets up the field in a hurry.”
Stubbs limped off the field after the game, but Hood said his star running back was feeling the effects of cramps in a humid night.
The Cougars’ passing game struggled in the first half. Rugen’s first two attempts sailed over the heads of wide open teammates in the first two possessions of the game. And one pass was dropped yards away from the end zone late in the first half. He was able to find his receivers in the fourth quarter, completing three of seven passes, but it was obvious the Cougars were going to rely on the ground game.
The Cougars finished with 449 total yards, 395 of them on the ground.
“I was really proud of our offensive line and how well they blocked,” Hood said. “We did a great job up front, giving Jaleel and Jacob some lanes to run through, and I thought we got to the ball in bunches on defense and in the second half that began to wear on Montgomery Central.”
The Indians’ lone bright spots came from a 38-yard touchdown run by quarterback Peyton Delvendahl to open the third quarter, capping an eight-play drive. And cornerback Hunter Harris picked off two Rugen passes in the first half.
“I thought we played well in the first quarter to start out,” Central coach Jeff Tomlinson said. “But I think Clarksville Academy was more physical because we got tired. The Academy is just in better shape than we are at this point.”
Tomlinson couldn’t pinpoint a reason for his team’s fatigue but didn’t want to make excuses.
“I don’t know if it was the heat or humidity,” he said. “But Clarksville Academy had the same conditions and played great, so we’re not going to lean on that. We’ve simply got to get better.”
Clarksville Academy’s first possession ended in an interception when Harris snagged the ball out of the air with one hand. But that led to a Central punt, which would become a theme.
The Indians finished with just 124 yards of offense and couldn’t produce much Thursday night. Running back Tyler Snead was knocked out of the game for a brief period after getting hit while leaping for a pass midway through the second quarter.
“That deflated us a bit because Tyler is our guy,” Tomlinson said.
Stubbs opened the scoring with an 8-yard touchdown run as time expired in the first quarter. The lead would balloon to 28-0 by halftime after Stubb’s 27-yard touchdown run, his 88-yard scoring burst and Rugen’s 21-yard scoring scamper with 16 seconds left before the half.
Rugen hit Connor Wise for a 5-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter to extend the Academy’s lead to 35-7, and backup quarterback Michael Conn capped the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown late in the game.
“It’s just one game, and we’ll enjoy it and then get ready for a touch White House-Heritage team (next) Friday,” Tood said. “That’ll be on the road so we have to be prepared.”