MOUNT WASHINGTON - Everything went according to plan on Friday for the Bullitt East Chargers as the red and gold opened the Class 4-A play-offs with a 63-6 victory over Atherton.
The game was not expected to be close and it certainly wasn’t as the Chargers were up 50-0 at halftime. The running clock in the second half kept the offense to a minimum and Atherton did not score until the final play of the game.
Bullitt East now advances to the second round of the play-offs for a rematch against Marion County on Friday in Mount Washington. The Chargers beat the Knights 13-10 at home back on Sept. 26.
The win was the fifth straight for the Chargers against Atherton, a program they have never lost to.
Atherton had won just one game during the season on the field and they were not expected to put up much of a fight. What pleased Bullitt East head coach Doug Preston was not so much the final score, but that his team stayed focused for its first post-season victory since 2005.
“The kids did a good job of taking care of business,” Preston said over the weekend. “We got to play everybody. We had everybody including the freshmen get to play a lot of the game.”
The win moved Bullitt East to 6-5 for the season and pushed to three their streak of strong outcomes to finish the season. That streak included the double overtime loss to Manual and the mauling of Nelson County in the final game of the regular season.
With the outcome never in doubt, this was nothing more than glorified scrimmage for the Chargers.
“We tried to work on throwing the ball a little more,” Preston said. “We did that for a short time. And then we wanted to work in some back-ups to build our depth.”
The passing game worked.
“Matt (Bowles) was six of eight with four touchdowns,” the coach pointed out. “We just didn’t play the starters very long. We could have played him more and had bigger numbers.”
The one worry with such an outcome is that the team wasn’t tested and won’t be ready as the play-offs progress. That is not a worry to Preston.
“We’ve played good competition all year,” the coach pointed out. “If we had played team like that four or five times I might be worried. We didn’t have an easy opponent until Atherton. I’m not too concerned about that. We’ve been in plenty of tough games to learn what to do and what it takes to win.”
The coach also said that another worry was put to rest in that the Chargers did not suffer any injuries to key players.
This game was over early. Just two and a half minutes into the game and Bullitt East scored on a 24-yard pass from Bowles to Taylor Ramirez. Three minute later, Zack McCarthy powered into the endzone from 2-yards out. Moments later, Adam Herth stepped in front of a pass and returned the interception 25-yards to paydirt.
In the second quarter, younger players were already starting to see action. The next touchdown came on a 20-yard pass from Bowles to Hunter Story and McCarthy added another touchdown on a 6-yard run.
Before halftime, Bowles threw two more touchdown passes. The first covered 36 yards to Garrett Foss and the other, just before halftime, went to Ricky Gray from 20 yards out.
That made it 50-0 at halftime.
It’s hard to score a lot of points with the clock running constantly. That is why the Chargers’ only points in the third quarter came on a 1-yard plunge by McCarthy. The final Bullitt East points came on a 3-yard run by junior Nathan Judd.
Atherton’s only points came on a 24-yard pass from Frank Vowels to Chris Ellis on the final play of the game. The teams didn’t even attempt an extra point.
While it rained in much of the area on Friday, this game was played in dry conditions.
Because of the quickness with which they managed to score, Bullitt East had fewer plays in the game than the Rebels. The Chargers had just 30 plays in the game compared to 43 for Atherton.
But the stats don’t lie. Bullitt East had 314 yards of total offense to just 67 yards for the visitors.
The offensive numbers broke down with the Chargers rushing for 180 yards and throwing for 134. McCarthy carried the ball nine times, the most for Bullitt East, as he gained 87 yards. Jonathan Bernard had five carries for 35 yards and Judd had five carries for 30 yards.
Through the air, Bernard was the only play with more than one catch as he had two for 29 yards.
Atherton had just those 67 yards of offense. The Rebels rushed for 35 yards and completed six passes for 32 yards. Of course, 24 of those passing yards came on the final play of the game.
Next Game: Bullitt East will be back at home on Friday for the rematch with Marion County. The Knights were on the road last week and beat Fairdale 35-21 as they scored the last two touchdowns of the game.
Marion County has a 9-2 record now with the only losses coming to Bullitt East and North Bullitt.
Game time in Mount Washington on Friday will be at 7:30 p.m.