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Puckett's punt highlights night



Published: Fri, August 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The running back called the season opener "perfect."

By JOHN BUTERA

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

SALINEVILLE -- Southern High running back Nick Puckett came up with big running plays and even bigger pass receptions, but he may be remembered most for one of the best punts in school history.

With 1 minute, 30 seconds remaining in the non-league contest, Puckett sealed his team's 8-7 victory over Lowellville when his 30-yard punt rolled dead at the Rockets' 5-yard line.

Puckett, a junior, rushed for 111 yards on 21 carries. He also caught three passes for 97 yards, one a 39-yard screen pass from Aaron Boston for a touchdown. Puckett then ran in for a two-point conversion.

About the punt, he said, "I was just trying to get it off and not let it get blocked for a return."

Last season, Southern posted a 1-8 record, and Puckett gained a total 100 yards rushing in eight games.

Puckett, about the season opener said, "This is perfect; it shows people we are going to compete."

Southern's Alex Albert, making his coaching debut, said, "We told the kids they have to believe, and tonight they did.

"Our offense line knocked them off the ball, and all of Puckett's yards were hard earned."

Stiff competition

The Indians, behind 7-0 at halftime, scored the go-ahead points with 7:35 remaining in the third quarter.

Southern dominated action in the third quarter, using up most of the time with a 14-6 advantage in plays.

Lowellville tallied in the second period with a 10-play 84-yard march. Lucas Gonzalez, on third and 7, scored on a 32-yard run to cap the drive.

He also caught a 13-yard pass from quarterback Cody Whinery during the march, and fullback John Moore had runs of 9, 10 and 15 yards.

Puckett caught a screen pass from Boston and raced 48 yards to the Lowellville 7-yard line, with nine seconds remaining in the half.

Two passing plays fell incomplete, and a 24-yard field goal failed to end the first half.

Lowellville had a first and 10 at the 16 on two different occasions in the first quarter. Their other first-half possession saw the Rockets with a first and goal at the 10.

The first drive ended on a missed field goal. Southern's defense stopped Gonzalez on a fourth and 2 at the 8 to squelch the next threat.

The third Lowellville possession was set up when linebacker Max Bartlett recovered a fumble at the Indians' 10-yard line.

Southern's defense stopped Lowellville again, forcing a fumble on a fourth and goal at the 4.

John Turco, Lowellville's coach said, "We made some nice drives and couldn't capitalize on them, and we dodged a bullet just before halftime, but that just made them [Southern] believe that they could do it."




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