SHEPHERDSVILLE – Riding the greatest individual statistical performance in local football history, the Bullitt Central Cougars moved to 3-0 for the first time since 2009 as they pulled away in the second half to crush visiting Valley 56-20 on Friday.
Overshadowing even homecoming was the performance of Bullitt Central junior running back Trevor Carnell, who rushed for an amazing 463 yards while scoring six touchdowns. Carnell carried the ball only 20 times.
With another 100 yards on kick returns, Carnell had 563 yards of total offense.
The performance on Friday far-surpassed the 318 yards that Gary Roberts collected in 1970 which was the longest standing record in the Bullitt Central listing. The six touchdowns also tied the school record that Carnell already held along with former Cougar quarterback Johnathan Miller. Carnell had six touchdowns against Valley last season.
“We really wanted to go out and make a statement,” Carnell said on the field after the game. “All the years I’ve been here, we haven’t started 3-0.
“I wanted that for my teammates,” the junior said of the 3-0 mark. “They need to know that we can be really good.”
Carnell could not have made an opening statement with more of an impact. Bullitt Central won the coin toss and, as head coach Danny Leasor has said they will do each time that happens, they choose to get the ball first.
Amazingly, even after what he had done to them last year, Valley kicked the ball directly to Carnell. He picked it up at the 15-yard line and quickly headed straight up the field. Carnell made a quick move to his right at the 30-yard line and suddenly broke into the clear. That was all it takes as Carnell raced to the end zone without being touched.
The night was a perfect way for Leasor to celebrate his 67th birthday.
“I was surprised that they even kicked it to us,” Leasor said after the game. “I’m not an NFL coach or anything, but I’m smart enough that I’m not kicking it to that kid.”
Carnell’s night would have been even more incredible if not the fact that a 55-yard touchdown run was called back in the second half because of a holding penalty.
“He had one called back and that didn’t even count,” Leasor said with a shake of his head when the stat people announced the final total after the game. “He made some unbelievable cuts.
“He is a coach's delight,” the coach added. “You dream as a coach to get one player like that. This makes up for some other years (when the talent has not been so good).”
Normally, in a game that ends with a running clock and in which a player rushes for 463 yards, there is no one play that turns the tide, but that was the case in this game.
Despite scoring the first three times they touched the ball, Bullitt Central had given up two touchdowns to Valley late in the first half and only led 28-14 at halftime. Valley took the second half kick-off and marched from their own 25-yard line to the Cougars’ 7-yard line.
On a second down play, Valley quarterback Robert Jones gave the ball to Kevonte Mitchell for a sweep play around the right side. Just before he got back to the line of scrimmage, Mitchell was hit and the ball flew high into the air. Bullitt Central sophomore linebacker Austin Calhoun came in and caught the fumble and rumbled to the 15-yard line.
After the play, Valley was assessed a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
On the next play, Carnell got the ball and he raced down the home sideline for a 70-yard touchdown run that sealed the outcome.
While Valley pretty much could not stop Bullitt Central’s rushing attack, Jones and his receivers had enough big play ability to make the Cougar fans worry if the score had gotten within one touchdown in the third quarter.
“If they had gotten within one score, we would have gone down and scored,” Leasor said confidently. “We had that mentality.”
Bullitt Central made some adjustments at halftime to put more pressure on Jones despite the fact that his scrambling ability was worrisome.
“We went from a three-deep to a two-deep and got in his face more,” Leasor said. “He is a good athlete and hard to defend. It was his scrambling that hurt us.”
Two plays after Carnell’s long run, Bullitt Central’s Tyler McCarthy intercepted Jones and returned it to the 23-yard line. This time it took five carries by Carnell before he scored from 5 yards out.
Still in the third quarter, the Cougars held Valley again without a first down, forcing a punt. On the first play of that drive, Carnell went up the middle for a 40-yard touchdown.
That made it 49-14, but with the scoreboard not working throughout the game, the referees were not aware of the 35-point difference and the game continued without a running clock.
Valley added a score late in the third-quarter on a short run by Jones, but the extra point kick was wide. When Bullitt Central’s D.J. Dennison scored on a 27-yard run early in the final quarter and Cameron Dukes kicked his eighth extra point, the clock did start running all the time.
In the first half, after Bullitt Central was up 7-0 on the kick-off return, the Cougars got the ball back following a Valley fumble. It took six plays for the Cougars to go 33 yards with Dukes scoring on a quarterback keeper from a yard out.
Valley did generate a long drive the next time they got the ball, but when they stalled, they had to punt with Carnell letting the ball roll dead at the 5-yard line. On first down, Carnell broke through a huge hole on the right side of the line and the junior was off to the races, covering 95 yards for a touchdown that pushed the lead to 21-0.
In the second quarter, Valley scored on a short pass from Jones to Tyler Oates.
Bullitt Central countered that score with a 70-yard drive that took 12 plays. At one point, the Cougars faced a third and 25 situation only to have Carnell pick up 40 yards on a running play. The touchdown came on an 8-yard run by Carnell up the middle with 2:30 remaining in the half.
Valley did answer that, marching right down the field for 70 yards. Jones, who either passed or ran the ball on nine of the ten plays, got the touchdown on a 1-yard keeper.
Bullitt Central ended up with 633 yards of total offense with 594 of those yards coming on the ground. Dukes did complete two of his five passes for 39 yards.
Valley was able to move the ball as they collected 424 yards. Jones completed 15 of 26 passes for 224 yards, but he was intercepted four times including two by Dennison. The Vikings added 200 yards on the ground.
Next Game: Bullitt Central will hit the road for a long trip this week as they will play at the newly formed McCracken County High School on Saturday. The game is part of a ‘bowl’ game set-up and there will be two earlier games before the Cougars face McCracken County at 7:30 p.m. (central time). The Mustangs are 1-2 after not playing a game last week, but both losses were by a single point.