Mater Dei scores six rushing touchdowns against Harrison to snap six-game skid

Treasure Washington
Evansville Courier & Press
  • Final: Mater Dei 43, Harrison 20

EVANSVILLE — Wyatt Stratman was feeling good about himself.

The senior came into Friday's game against Harrison without a rushing touchdown this season, though he did score once as a receiver. Yet, he completed a hat trick by halftime and matched his career high with three touchdowns as finished with 135 rushing yards on 20 carries.

With the help of Stratman, Mater Dei is back in the win column and snapped a six-game skid by defeating the Warriors 43-20 at Romain Stadium. The losing streak was the longest of Wildcats coach Mike Goebel’s 27-year tenure.

"He's been working really hard on the field and being a great leader off the field," fellow senior Tanner Halbig said of Stratman. "He deserves this. He's a great team player."

"It was awesome, but I couldn't have done it without my line," Stratman added. "They've been through a lot this year; we all have as a team. And we've been working on some things. We changed up a little bit of our practice habits this week, and it really paid off. It was a good night. We needed it."

Goebel admitted his team doesn’t normally face these kinds of circumstances. Mater Dei is the defending Class 2A state champion, after all. It usually is competing for regular-season championships by this time of the year, but this was only the second victory for the Wildcats. 

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Still, the win was huge. Although Mater Dei still didn't play to its fullest potential, Goebel commended the effort the team made.

"When we did make a mistake, we were able to come and make plays right after that," he said. "We had a lot of guys come through. I think our line played better. Hopefully, we just improved as a team."

Mater Dei's Wyatt Stratman (24) is celebrated for a touchdown as the Mater Dei Wildcats play the Harrison Warriors Friday, Oct. 6, 2023.

On a night when the weather wasn't the greatest, Mater Dei (2-6) relied on a dominant rushing attack. Halbig added a pair of rushing touchdowns, including a long run on the first offensive play of the second half. Junior Ethan Stofleth also got into the endzone to cap the Wildcats’ final scoring drive.

Stratman, Halbig and Stofleth combined for 228 of the Wildcats' 287 rushing yards.

Their powerful run game also limited Harrison's offensive possessions. The Warriors (1-7) found a groove offensively early as DeShawnDre Brown scored a pair of rushing touchdowns in the first quarter. But the Warriors’ offense stalled for much of the rest of the game. 

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Brown also was intercepted in the second half. And when Harrison reached the red zone again later on, it was stuffed on fourth down near the goal line. They didn’t reach the endzone again until the game’s final seconds.

"Brown's tough. We knew that coming in," Goebel said. "(He's) a good quarterback, and he's going to be nothing but better as time goes on. We're happy that we slowed him down."

Mater Dei's Tanner Halbig (21) runs the ball as the Mater Dei Wildcats play the Harrison Warriors Friday, Oct. 6, 2023.

This was Mater Dei's night to find something positive to build on before the sectional begins. It will conclude its regular season with a West Side showdown against rival Reitz next Friday and then face schools its own size in the Class 2A tournament.

The Panthers clinched back-to-back outright Southern Indiana Athletic Conference championships on Friday and remain undefeated after defeating Bosse 52-20.

Still, the Wildcats are excited about another opportunity to face one of their biggest rivals. They have, after all, won six of the last 10 West Side Nut Club trophies.

Maybe Friday's win over Harrison will spark some momentum.

"Our team is going to be pumped about it," Stratman said. "We're just going to work hard this week and see what happens on Friday night."

Courier & Press sports reporter Treasure Washington can be reached via her email,, and on X, formerly known as Twitter, @Twashington490.