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BARDSTOWN - North Bullitt's Air Raid game on Friday at Nelson County turned into Bombs Away for the Cardinals as the long-time rivals of the Eagles stunned the green and gold 76-36.
This was one of the worst, as well as one of the most perplexing, losses for the Eagles in the 16 years under head coach Brett Newton. The 76 points the Eagles allowed was the most ever scored against the green and gold, tying the 76 points that Bullitt East tallied in a game in 1999.
During that 1999 season, the Eagles allowed 62 points in two other losses. But this is a North Bullitt squad that had not given up more than 28 points in the first four games of the season and was allowing only an average of 18.5 points a game to opponents.
"It was not good fundamental football," Newton said after the team returned to school late on Friday. "They had some good athletes, but we were not in the right positions.
"They ran it some, but 80 percent of the time they were throwing it," the coach said as he slumped in his chair. "During the first half just about every play was a pass."
Nelson County senior quarterback Dylan Beasley, who had set a state record three weeks earlier by throwing for 652 yards in a victory over Marion County (only to be broken two weeks later), tied the state record in this game with nine touchdown passes as he threw for 533 yards. The 533 passing yards is the 12th-most in a single game in Kentucky high school history.
Nelson County finished with 646 yards of offense. Five times the Cardinals scored on one-play drives.
North Bullitt's game plan was simple. It was also the same one they had used a year ago to beat the Cardinals 48-20 at home. The green and gold wanted to keep the ball on the ground, run the clock and keep the ball out of the hands of Beasley and company.
Unfortunately, the Eagles fell behind early and had to play catch-up, taking more chances than Newton would have liked.
Still, the Eagles led 22-21 midway through the second quarter only to have Nelson County score two quick touchdowns. North Bullitt then hurt themselves when they dropped a pass in the endzone with five seconds remaining in the first half. A touchdown there would have pulled them within one score.
"We didn't do a lot of on offense after that," Newton lamented. "In the second half we were just not sustaining drives."
North Bullitt did get a pair of touchdowns from senior running back Travis Downing as well as single scores from junior Josh Exton and sophomores Mitchell Allen and Brady Threlkel. Newton said that Downing, Exton and Mitchell each rushed for about 80 yards in the game.
Because of a KHSAA ruling based on Nelson County dropping from Class 6-A to 4-A for this season because of the opening of Thomas Nelson High School, this was a district contest for the Cardinals, but not the Eagles.
"It's hard to tell if that affected the game," Newton said. "They didn't seem hyped up, but it obviously meant more to their kids than to us. District game or not, I don't think it would have changed the outcome of this game."
Newton did say after the game that his team was not looking ahead to Bullitt Central this week. However, the fact that the Eagles have a big game this week should help them put this setback in the rearview mirror.
"I think it will take care of itself," Newton said of his team getting pumped back up. "It's a district game and we're the defending champs."
NEXT GAME: North Bullitt will be at home for Friday for the annual renewal of The Game against Bullitt Central. The Cougars are riding a four-game winning streak after beating Henry County 21-7 on Friday to improve to 4-2.
Game time at North Bullitt is set for 7:30 p.m.