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Awful opening half sinks Cougars Friday

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John Hardin 43, Bullitt Central 14

By Mike Farner

  RADCLIFF – A season that had started so quickly for Bullitt Central, came to an even quicker end on Friday as the Cougars were bumped from the Class 5-A play-offs by traditional power John Hardin by a 43-14 score.

For all intents and purposes, this game was over midway through the second quarter. By the 6:01 mark, the Bulldogs had pulled ahead 36-0, putting the running clock in order for the rest of the game. John Hardin scored on six of seven possessions in the first half and led 43-0 by halftime. The Cougars did not score until the fourth quarter.

Even with all of that, when the team returned to Shepherdsville, veteran Bullitt Central head coach Danny Leasor was pointing to a single play that put his team behind the eight-ball early in the game.

After the Cougars had punted at the end of the first series and a long return put the ball on the Bullitt Central 26-yard line, the defense had made a nice stand and John Hardin lined up to attempt what would have been a 41-yard field goal.

Instead, Bullitt Central jumped off-sides on the play. That created a fourth down and two-yards to go situation. John Hardin coach Chad Lewis called his kicking team off the field and put the offense back out there. On the next play, running back DaQuan Deville went six-yards for the first down. Two plays later, fullback Khalil Frazier covered nine-yards for a touchdown.

The rest of the first half was all down hill for the Cougars.

“We dug a big hole for ourselves again,” Leasor lamented after his team’s return to Shepherdsville. “They were going to try the long field goal. Then they go and score. We had them stopped right there.”

After the Cougars gained no yards in three plays, punter Cameron Dukes’ kick was blocked and Josh Miller picked it up and ran it in for a touchdown.

“Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong,” Leasor said. “The first half we played pitifully. They acted like they didn’t want to be there.”

John Hardin did fumble on the next time they got the ball, but Bullitt Central could not take advantage of the gift. In fact, the Cougars did not have a first down over the first three quarters of the contest.

The fumble just seemed to make the Bulldogs mad. On the first play of the second quarter, Elijah Smith broke free for a 35-yard touchdown run. Three plays later, John Hardin got a turnover at the Bullitt Central 20-yard line. It took just four plays before quarterback Patrick Anderson connected with Miller on a 4-yard scoring play.

Following another Bullitt Central punt, the Bulldogs covered 85-yards in four plays. Most of the yardage came on the first play when Anderson ran for 78 yards. Two plays actually went backwards before Deville scored on an 11-yard run.

That made it 36-0 (John Hardin had scored on a two-point conversion after a bad snap following the third touchdown) so the running clock was in order for the rest of the game.

Just before halftime, the home team went 55 yards in four plays. Frazier had the big play this time with a 36-yard run. He then had the touchdown on a nine-yard dash.

Bullitt Central had the ball for just four plays in the third quarter as they turned it over on a muffed punt catch midway through the frame. Still, the defense kept John Hardin out of the endzone.

The Cougars finally got on the board early in the final frame behind the running of junior Zack Patton who was playing in only his second game since returning from a broken foot suffered early in the season. Patton had a 36-yard run that set up his 4-yard run for a touchdown.

On the extra point, Dukes connected with D.J. Dennison for two points.

With just two minutes left in the game, Bullitt Central added another touchdown when sophomore Josh Miller scored from the nine-yard line.

“I thought definitely that they made some big plays,” Leasor said of a John Hardin team that has lost only three regular season games since 2008. “Speed is always a factor with us. They had some long runs.

“It’s the same script,” the coach noted. “We get down early and get our heads down. 43-0 is a helluva hole.”

Bullitt Central (4-7) could not get junior running back Trevor Carnell free at all. In his lowest rushing output of his career, Carnell gained just three yards on eight carries. Patton did have eight carries for 95 yards with most of that coming in the second half.

The Cougars had only eight seniors dress for this game. Leasor is expecting as many as 22 seniors on the roster next season. That would be the highest number in a long time.

“They are very good,” Leasor said of a senior-laden John Hardin squad with 19 seniors. “I rank them third on our schedule behind McCracken County and Simon Kenton. But they are very good.” 

John Hardin (9-2) advances to the second-round of the Class 5-A play-offs where they will play host to Shelby County this week at home. Shelby County earned that game with a 21-14 win over Jeffersontown.