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SHELBYVILLE – After giving up ten straight points and the lead to start the second half without running a play from scrimmage, the Bullitt East Chargers needed a big play on Friday in their district showdown with Shelby County.
It turned out to be that simple for the red and gold. On the very next play, the Chargers gave the ball to senior running back Brandon Samuels on a routine veer play off right tackle. Samuels was greeted with a huge hole and he did the rest, racing 75 yards to the endzone.
The touchdown put the Chargers back on top 17-10 and with the help of a big stop by the defense in the fourth quarter, Bullitt East came out of Shelbyville with a 24-10 victory and the program’s first district title since 2007.
“I just thought we needed a big play,” Samuels said after the team’s celebration on the field after the game. “Our line opened a big hole and I was fortunate to get through it and then it was over.”
Bullitt East head coach Darrell Vincent felt his team had set up the big play late in the first half when they got outside on some running plays. Shelby County was selling out early in the game to stop the veer plays between the tight ends. The Chargers answered that by going outside and throwing the ball late in the first half.
Even after the Rockets scored the first ten points of the second half, Vincent called the inside veer the first time his team touched the ball.
“I could see when we broke the huddle that it was going to be a big play,” Vincent said. “Jake Rush and Dylan Ferguson controlled the lineman in the gap and Brandon made a big run after that.”
Bullitt East (8-1) led 10-0 at halftime, but the first half had ended on a somewhat sour note when a long touchdown pass to Trent Meredith was called back for an obscure ‘blocking behind the play’ penalty on the Chargers. They ended up settling for a 25-yard field goal from Dillon Heichelbech on the final play of the half.
Then, the second half started miserably for the Chargers. Shelby County marched 77 yards in 12 plays, scoring on a fourth-down, one-yard run by Earl Stoudemire. On the ensuing kick-off, Bullitt East fielded a kick that was going to the endzone and then ran back into the endzone before coming out and getting hit and fumbling at the 20-yard line.
Fortunately, the defense made a stand, allowing the Rockets only a 33-yard field goal by Josh Edwards.
On the very next play from scrimmage, Samuels made the big run.
But the Chargers were still not out of the woods.
Early in the fourth quarter, Shelby County started on their own 40-yard line and with the help of a 22-yard pass, got to the 11-yard line. At that point, the home team faced a fourth and three situation, calling a time-out with 7:10 remaining. The Rockets tried to sweep right, but the Bullitt East defense stopped running back Malik Manica in the backfield for a loss.
Bullitt East then took it back 88-yards for the final points in the game. The first big play was a 38-yard pass from Pierce Kelly to Cruise Coulter and two plays later Kelly ran for 12-yards. The Chargers then scored when Austin Colvin ran 24-yards around the right end.
Shelby County (4-4) was not able to get out of their own end of the field for the rest of the game.
At the start of the game, Bullitt East could not move the ball, punting after two three-and-outs. Shelby County had helped keep the ball in the middle of the field with a fumble and then a fake punt that had no chance at being successful.
Following the failed fake punt, Bullitt East marched 61 yards in eight plays. The three biggest plays in the drive came outside the tight ends with a 19-yard run by Colvin and then a 26-yard run by Samuels. The touchdown came on a 2-yard run by Samuels.
Shelby County did reach the Bullitt East 11-yard line early in the second quarter, but a bad snap backed them up and then the defense stopped a fourth down run. After an exchange of punts, Bullitt East seemed to be in control when Kelly and Meredith teamed up on a 52-yard tight end screen only to have the play shortened because of the block.
With just 1:12 remaining in the half, Bullitt East got to the 7-yard line thanks to a 23-yard fourth-down pass from Kelly to Cruise. At :01.2, Heichelbech kicked the 25-yard field goal.
“That is a good football team we beat,” Vincent said of the Rockets. “I knew it would be tough. They crowd the box and confuse you. We got the better of the field position.”
Bullitt East had more total yardage than the Rockets 335 to 263, but Shelby County ran 60 plays from scrimmage to just 42 for Bullitt East.
The Chargers finished with 226 yards on the ground with Samuels collecting 125 yards on ten carries. Kelly completed half of his ten passes for 109 yards.
Next Game: Bullitt East will go on the road on Friday to close out the regular season when they travel to Fairdale. It has been a rough year for the Bulldogs as they are 0-9 heading in the game after a 47-13 loss to Doss. The Bulldogs will not make the play-offs.
Game time at Fairdale is set for 7:30 p.m.