VERSAILLES - Woodford County coach Chris Tracy had a secret weapon by the name of Couch on Friday night when the North Bullitt Eagles traveled to the heart of the Bluegrass.
No, he wasn’t any relation to famed UK quarterback Tim Couch but he might as well have been.
Sophomore Matt Couch came off the Yellow Jacket bench to throw a pair of touchdown passes in the 28-19 victory over the visiting Eagles.
The loss dropped North Bullitt to 1-2 on the season, while the 5-A Woodford County went to 3-1.
“We knew Woodford County was a good team,” said Eagle head coach Brett Newton. “But we weren’t counting on number 10 (Couch). We didn’t expect that.”
Couch came in to relieve starter Ryan Garrahan and the signal callers shared duties Friday.
The host jumped on top when Derek Campbell picked off a tipped Dalton Hadley pass and ran 50 yards for a touchdown with 7:55 left in the first quarter. Taylor Ratliff added the extra point.
After James Whitfill returned the ensuing kickoff 30 yards, the young Eagles came right back Hadley hit Travis Ridley for an 18-yard gain and then found Todd Asbury for a 45-yard pickup.
With the ball at the six-inch mark, a spot that would make a return appearance later in the half, Zach Reynolds got into the end zone. Derek Schweinhart’s extra point knotted the score at 7-7 with 5:59 left in the quarter.
After Duke Tomlinson recovered a Yellow Jacket fumble at the Eagle 21, North Bullitt went on its longest drive of the night. However, the 12-play drive stalled after netting just 12 yards, the snap to Hadley in punt formation was fumbled and the junior took a knee.
With the ball at the Eagle 20, Woodford County took six plays before Couch found Stan Serdyuk in the end zone from six yards out. Ratliff kicked the extra point with 9:37 left in the half.
The Eagles could not make a first down and Woodford County began a 56-yard scoring drive. Nick Walling capped off the march with a one-yard touchdown.
An ill-fated on-side kick gave North Bullitt the ball at midfield. The big play on the drive was a 25-yard connection between Hadley and Ridley on fourth down.
A fourth-down pass from Hadley to Brandon Shawver could not be handled in the end zone to end the drive.
Not sitting on the ball to close the half, Couch tried to go deep but Ridley made the leaping interception at midfield.
With just 12 seconds left, Hadley found Shawver wide open for the apparent touchdown. However, officials ruled his knee touched at the six-inch line.
Trying to spike the ball, North Bullitt was called for illegal procedure and the ball was moved back to the 6. On second down, Hadley and Shawver again tried to hook up in back corner of the end zone. The pass fell incomplete.
As North Bullitt coaches tried to plead their case with officials, the Eagles went into the locker room down 21-7.
The visitors would score first in the third quarter as Hadley hit Shawver on a 20-yard touchdown with 6:06 left in the third frame. A high snap led to a missed two-point conversion.
After a defensive stand, North Bullitt gave the ball back as Chance Wilson intercepted Hadley’s pass at the 32. On the next play, Couch found Bobby Neal open for a 32-yard gain. Two plays later, he would connect with Serdyuk from 12 yards for the score.
Ryan Collins came up with a big play for the Eagles as he stepped in front of Couch pass and returned the interception 60 yards to the Yellow Jacket 15. On the next play, Hadley hit Ridley for the touchdown with 3:44 left in the game. The two-point conversion failed and Woodford County led 28-19.
The home team ran out the clock.
“Overall, we saw some improvement on offense and we gained more yardage,” said Newton. “But we’ve got to quit making bad decisions.”
He was pleased that his inexperienced team never quit and continued to play hard against a quality opponent.
“We did a lot of things really well,” said Newton. “But we have a whole lot of things we need to do much better.”
In recalling the play just before halftime, Newton said there was no doubt that Shawver got into the end zone. The large contingency of North Bullitt fans would agree.
He didn’t dwell on the play at halftime because he wasn’t pleased with a lot of things from the first half.
Next game: The Eagles will stay on the road with a contest Friday against Waggener at 7:30 p.m.