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LOUISVILLE - The Bullitt Central Cougars continue to win, notching victory number five on Friday, but the team continues to do it with less than a full effort for 48 minutes.
Against the Waggener Wildcats on Friday, the Cougars capped their four game road swing with a 33-19 victory against a team that has now lost 18 straight games dating back to 2007.
Bullitt Central is now 5-0 for the first time in 20 seasons. Just as importantly, the maroon and gray stand 1-0 in district play.
Still, the Cougars scored three of the first four times they got the ball on Friday, surging ahead 19-0 three minutes into the second quarter. Then the team seemed to lose some focus.
Waggener fumbled on the next play and Bullitt Central moved to the 10-yard line, but then running back Jeremaie Bennett fumbled at the 2-yard line and the ball rolled into the end zone where it was recovered by the Wildcats.
Waggener did not have a first down to that point in the game, but then suddenly got two before the defense stiffened.
When Bullitt Central could not move the ball, they were forced to punt and a 45-yard return by Waggener’s Lamar Jeter put the ball at the Cougars’ 9-yard line. With just 24 seconds remaining in the half, the Wildcats scored to make it 19-7 at the break.
The second half was much the same. Bullitt Central came out and dominated play early, scoring on a 13-yard run by Bennett and then blocking a Waggener punt in the end zone with James Johnson falling on it for a touchdown.
That made it 33-7 heading into the fourth quarter and the Cougars took another siesta. Waggener added one score on a 50-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Jeter. While the outcome was never in doubt, the Wildcats added another score in the final minute of the game.
“I told them after the game that for the first quarter and the first half of the second (quarter) that we played as well as we have this season,” Bullitt Central head coach Danny Leasor said after the win. “Then we fumbled the ball in the end one and we seemed to lose our energy.
“Then we started the second half well and then got lazy again,” the coach lamented. “The big gains they had were just silly things we did.”
The Cougars have not exactly been challenged the past two weeks, rolling past a pair of winless teams. That won’t be the case this Friday at home when the team faces another district rival, Doss.
Leasor is hoping that better foes will bring out the best in his team in the second half of the season as the schedule gets much more difficult including two games against teams that are also undefeated.
“I thought we played well enough to win,” Leasor said. “We didn’t play as well as we could, but we’re 5-0. We’re going to peak. Hopefully we’ll peak at the right time. We’ve had some ups and downs and now we need things to even out.”
Leasor held out three starters for this game for reasons he would not elaborate on. All three of those players should return for the Doss game.
The Bullitt Central players realize that they can play better.
“We’re 5-0, but we can always improve,” senior Corey Brown said after the game.
A strong outing and a win over Doss would pretty much assure the Cougars of the programs’ first home play-off game in 30 years.
“We just have to keep working hard,” Brown said. “We have to cut down on our mistakes and we have to play as a team for a whole game.”
Bullitt Central did finish with 342 yards of total offense with 225 of that coming on the ground. Bennett, the fourth leading rusher this season in Class 5-A, led the Cougars with 148 yards on 23 carries. Bennett scored three times in the game with two on the ground and another coming on a 33-yard screen pass for the first points in the win.
The maroon and gray also got a touchdown from senior T.J. Flener who scored in the first half on a 16-yard pass from quarterback Damion Wibbels. The junior quarterback completed nine of his 16 passes for 117 yards and two scores. Flener had four of the receptions for 38 yards and also carried the ball seven times for 55 yards.
The Bullitt Central defense gave up just 92 yards in the game. That total included 87 yards through the air and just five yards on the ground.
Next Game: Bullitt Central will play at home for just the second time this season when they host Doss in what will be homecoming in Shepherdsville. The Dragons are 2-3 after falling to undefeated John Hardin 52-8 last Friday.
Game time in Shepherdsville on Friday is set for 7:30 p.m.