La PORTE — Following an uncharacteristic fumble on the fourth play of the season, New Prairie quarterback Chase Ketterer locked in, settled down and proceeded to toy with the La Porte defense.
In the Cougars’ first drive following the turnover, it was obvious the senior’s mistake didn’t affect him in the slightest.
Ketterer took the snap in the shotgun, ran up the middle and slipped through a weak arm tackle at the line of scrimmage. He then bounced out right, stiff-armed his defender and found running room on the right sideline for a 43-yard gain to get the New Prairie offense rolling.
The play fired up the Cougars’ sideline, and while the scoreboard didn’t indicate it, the rout was on. Senior running back Chris Mays found his way into the end zone shortly after for the first of his three touchdowns on the night.
Mays had a productive night in New Prairie’s 48-14 win over La Porte to secure the Milk Jug for the second straight year, totaling 100 rushing yards on 13 carries (7.7 yards per carry), but all eyes were on Ketterer Friday night.
At the beginning of the night, the Cougars’ star quarterback sat just 14 points behind Tyler Weller for the school’s all-time record in total points and trailed Weller’s other record of career rushing touchdowns by just one.
Ketterer knew he had a real chance to break those records Friday night against the Slicers' defense. He found the end zone on a 29-yard rush, a two-point conversion and tied the record with a 31-yard touchdown pass at the end of the first half. Ketter was now tied with Weller on both records.
It was just a matter of time now, and it didn’t take long.
With the ball on his own 39-yard line on the second offensive play of the half, Ketterer pulled the ball back on a read option, deciding to run it himself. He cut left off the tackle to get outside the La Porte front seven and showed off his best asset. Ketterer saw a running lane and hit it hard, beating the defense 61 yards into the end zone for his third touchdown and 14th point of the night.
The 61-yard scamper with 10:46 remaining in the third quarter gave Ketterer his 348th point of his career, breaking both of Weller’s records. Ketterer ended the night with 223 rushing yards, 118 passing yards, four total touchdowns and two school records.
“Growing up in New Prairie, man, it’s awesome,” Ketterer said. “Watching Weller and (Nick) Brassell, both of them had a crazy amount of touchdowns and what not. Beating the guys I looked up to when I was younger, it’s a crazy, great feeling for me.”
Ketterer and the offense made the flashy plays for New Prairie on Friday, but one can’t overlook how impressive of a game the Cougars’ defense had. The starting unit only allowed the Slicers across the 50 yard line once, but a loss of yards the play after negated any progress La Porte made.
The Slicers’ offense may not be the toughest test for the New Prairie defense, but it’s a good confidence-builder for the remainder of the season. With the dynamic offense the Cougars have that includes four 300-pound linemen, a record-setting quarterback and a patient, strong running back, having a defense play as it did tonight could be a real problem for opposing teams.
“We’re really young on defense,” said New Prairie head coach Russ Radtke. “We only have three returning starters, but I think our guys did a real good job today. We’ve gotta play that kind of defense this season. Last year, we gave up 28 points three or four times. We can’t do that. So I’m excited about what our defense did today.”
Ketterer’s swan song could be a magical one for New Prairie if Friday night’s dominance on both sides is any indication.
New Prairie 48, La Porte 14
Senior running back Chris Mays rushed for 100 yards and three touchdowns.