Bulldogs take final bite out of the Eagles

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By Mike Farner

 RADCLIFF - Over 16 seasons as the head coach at North Bullitt, Brett Newton has taken his teams into battle against some very good football teams.

On Friday night, Newton admitted that his team faced the best-of-the-best as his team was rolled by powerful John Hardin 56-14 in the first-round of the Class 5-A Kentucky State Football Play-offs.

The Bulldogs, behind a group of seniors that has started each of the past four seasons with at least 13 straight wins, scored each time they got the ball in the first half. That led to a 49-0 lead by halftime and the second half was played with the running clock.

“They could have scored as many as they wanted,” Newton said over the weekend. “That is a team with no weaknesses. They are a very talented team.”

This was the first meeting ever between the two schools in varsity football. In the past, the green and gold have played state powers like Boyle County, Lone Oak and Central in the post-season when they had powerhouse teams, but Newton didn’t think any of them could stack up with this John Hardin squad.

“I would say that some of those Boyle County teams were as good and were well-coached,” Newton pointed out. “But those teams didn’t have the athletes that John Hardin has.”

With the win, Boyle County moved to 11-0 for this season and will now face Grayson County in a rematch of a regular season encounter that the Bulldogs won easily. Grayson County advanced by beating Bullitt Central 21-12.

North Bullitt’s season ended with a 5-6 record.

Everyone knows that to be the regional champion that you have to play and beat the Bulldogs, but a bad stretch of games in the middle of the season left the Eagles fourth in the district chase. That forced the green and gold to have to play John Hardin earlier instead of later.

“That’s what we told the kids that to reach where we felt we could be when the season started that we could have played them in the third round,” Newton pointed out. “We could have won (some of the regular season games) and played them later, but everybody knows you have to go through John Hardin.

“We were hoping maybe they would overlook us,” the coach added. “But they are well coached and they were ready to play. We caught them firing on all cylinders.”

Newton felt that his team was ready to make a good showing on Friday but that some early miscues doomed the team to a long night.

“We had a good week of practice,” the coach said. “We saw some things on film that Boone County and some other teams had done and had a little bit of success with. But we had no success with it.”

The Eagles knew that they had to play a perfect game and that didn’t happen. While the team only turned the ball over twice, the two lost fumbles came in the opening moments of the game and led directly to John Hardin touchdowns.

“You can’t afford turnovers against a team like that and we had two early ones,” Newton recalled. “Both fumbles came early. They scored the first three times they touched the ball.”

Over the two previous games, wins over Trigg County and Fairdale, North Bullitt had rushed for almost 700 yards. Against John Hardin, the Eagles could manage only 135 yards on the ground and were held to 173 yards of total offense.

John Hardin responded with 202 yards on the ground and the Bulldogs added another 114 through the air as they completed six of seven passes.

John Hardin’s first score came less than two minutes into the game when running back Wade Holtsclaw scored from 25 yards out. North Bullitt then fumbled the kick-off and the Bulldogs recovered. On the very next play, quarterback Patrick Anderson connected with Dorian Collins on a 28-yard touchdown pass.

Two minutes later, John Hardin scored again when Jalen Fleming darted 37-yards to the end zone with 7:40 still remaining in the first half.

North Bullitt managed to keep the Bulldogs out of the end zone for the rest of the first quarter, but then on the second play of the second frame, Fleming scored again on a 34-yard run. Holtsclaw later added a touchdown on a 55-yard run and it only got worse when Patrick Egnor’s pass was intercepted by Dewayne Evans and returned 36-yards for a score.

The final touchdown of the first half came on a 37-yard pass from Anderson to Marquis Kennedy.

With the game no longer in doubt and the clock running constantly, North Bullitt did get a touchdown in the third quarter when sophomore Mitchell Allen scored from 3-yards out. John Hardin did add a late score when Elijah Smith ran 13 yards for a touchdown

In the fourth quarter, North Bullitt did add a final score when freshman Logan James carried the ball for a 1-yard score. Brandon Cundiff ran in the two-point conversion.

Alen was the leading rusher for the Eagles with 69 yards on 13 carries. Josh Exton carried the ball eight times for 22 yards.

Egnor completed three of his six pass attempts for 18 yards with the one interception.

John Hardin’s Anderson completed five of six passes for 75 yards.  Holtsclaw had just the two carries in the game and both went for touchdowns as he rushed for 80 yards. Fleming also scored the only two times he touched the ball as he finished with 71 yards.