JEFFERSONTOWN - Ahead 27-7 when quarterback Anthony Doran and sophomore tight end Trent Meredith combined on a 47-yard touchdown pass with 4:14 remaining in the third quarter wasn't enough on Friday as the Jeffersontown Chargers rallied late to steal a 28-27 victory from Bullitt East.
For the first 32 minutes, it was Bullitt East that played relatively mistake free football while the 'other' Chargers shot themselves in the foot. That changed over the final moments as the red and gold twice turned the ball over in the final six minutes.
Jeffersontown's final touchdown came with 2:45 remaining when junior running back Richard Delaney, who played at Fairdale last season, bolted up the middle for 18 yards. Mandera Jackson, who had an extra point blocked earlier in the game, then converted the go-ahead kick.
That final drive for Jeffersontown started after an interception near midfield. After the Chargers had gone ahead, Bullitt East picked up two first downs and was sitting at the 28-yard line with 1:33 remaining when a fumbled exchange turned the ball over a final time.
After playing so well in the first game of the season, a 49-21 victory over Doss and then competing strongly for most of the game on Friday, the final outcome left a poor taste in the mouth of Bullitt East head coach Darrell Vincent.
"Of course it is frustrating," Vincent said on the field after the game. "We made some calls as coaches didn't work out. We should have played to punt there instead of going for it (the screen pass that was intercepted)."
Jeffersontown had defeated Bullitt East 28-0 in Mount Washington last season and went on to reach the Class 5-A regional final before falling to John Hardin.
"This team has no quit in them," the second-year coach added. "I never once tonight thought we wouldn't win the game.
"I'm proud as heck of them," Vincent said of his team. "It's week one (the state considers last week's game to have been played in week zero). The growing has just begun. Nothing is over. We just told them that we were there with the number two team in the region last year and we just went toe-to-toe with them."
Bullitt East has suffered two key injuries midway through the first half that certainly affected the outcome of the game. Seniors Devyn Noe and Jesse Porter both went out and neither returned to action in the game. However, both were game for a late field goal attempt as Noe is the team's kicker and Porter his holder. Both had put their uniforms back on if they were needed.
Noe went out while playing defense on the first play of the second quarter. He had kicked the extra point after the first touchdown, but had missed his first kick of the season after the second score. Without Noe, the Chargers went for two-points after the final two scores, converting just one.
Porter, who had led the team in rushing with 103 yards against Doss, suffered a sprained ankle midway through the second quarter. He had carried the ball ten times for 24 yards and had returned a punt 45 yards that set up the Chargers' second touchdown which he scored from 12 yards out.
Vincent knew that the Chargers would have to get relatively close on that final drive for Noe to have a chance with his injury.
"We didn't think he had a 50-yard in him, but we thought maybe a 25- or 30-yarder," the coach said.
That didn't happen as after two first downs had moved Bullitt East to the Jeffersontown 28-yard line, the Chargers in red and gold turned the ball over on a fumble. Doran had completed an 18-yard pass to Paul Miles early in the drive and then on third-down, Doran throw a pass over the middle that was tipped by Meredith and then caught by Miles. On the next play, the fumble occurred.
Early in the game it was Jeffersontown that tried to self-destruct. The Chargers turned the ball over four times on fumbles and had 14 penalties for 125 yards.
Bullitt East scored twice in the first quarter, first on a 2-yard run by Brandon Samuels and then the sweep around the right side by Porter that made it 13-0.
That was the margin when Jeffersontown in the middle of the second quarter. The Chargers went 93 yards in eight plays. An early 77-yard touchdown was erased by a penalty for sideline interference, but the Jefferson County team later scored on a 53-yard pass from Kendrick Gardner to Mikal Howard.
Bullitt East had answered that in the final minute of the half on a 14-yard drive following another Jeffersontown fumble. Samuels got his second score, this time from a yard out, with only 23 seconds remaining.
Doran then connected with Robert Hartley for the two-point conversion to make it 21-7 at halftime.
The Bullitt County Chargers kept the motor running in the third quarter. The red and gold stopped Gardner on what appeared to be a quick kick attempt at the 40-yard line. The Chargers then picked up a first down, but then went backwards including a delay penalty. On the next play, Doran found Meredith behind the defense for a 53-yard touchdown.
On the two-point conversion attempt, Doran was brought down just short of the goal line.
That was the high-water mark for Bullitt East. The rest of the game belonged to Jeffersotown.
The Louisville group started its comeback on the next drive as they started putting Deloney at quarterback in a 'Wildcat' style attack. Gardner completed passes of 18 and 19 yards in the drive before Deloney darted 11 yards for the touchdown.
Jackson's extra point attempt was blocked.
Two players later, Doran connected on a short-pass, but the ball was then fumbled and Jeffersontown recovered at the Bullitt East 35-yard line. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Gardner dropped back and found wide receiver Tremaine Williams wide open for a 35-yard touchdown pass.
Gardner then ran in the two-point conversion.
Bullitt East then ran eight straight plays before a fourth-down pass was incomplete. Jeffersontown then gave the ball right back on another fumble.
Facing third down at the Jeffersontown 48-yard line with 5:11 remaining in the game, Vincent and his staff opted to go for the first down. Doran dropped back and looked right before throwing back to the left. The pass was intercepted at midfield.
Eight plays later, Jeffersontown had the third down at the 18-yard line. Deloney came in motion and took the handoff from Gardner. The junior speedster turned the ball up the middle and danced into the endzone.
On the extra point, Bullitt East called a time-out, but Jackson was still able to slip the kick through the upright for what turned out to be the winning point.
Jeffersontown ended up with a 338 to 185 yard advantage in total offense. The Jefferson County Chargers had 14 first downs to nine for Bullitt East.
NEXT GAME: Bullitt East will be at home on Friday as they play host to long-time rival Fairdale. The Bulldogs did not play last week and stand 0-1 after losing 57-7 to Pleasure Ridge Park to open the season.
Game time in Mount Washington is set for 7:30 p.m.