BOWLING GREEN - With a home play-off berth there for the taking, the Bullitt Central Cougars inexplicably came out flat on Friday against Class 4-A Warren East.
While the Cougars rebounded with stretches of strong play, it wasn’t enough as the maroon and gray dropped a 24-13 decision on the road. Coupled with other events around the state, the Cougars ended up with the number three seed in District 4 of Class 5-A and will start the play-offs this Friday on the road at Jeffersontown.
Bullitt Central (3-7) fell behind 12-0 in the first eight minutes of the game against Warren East. The Cougars then battled back to get within 12-7 at halftime. With a touchdown with 2:41 remaining in the game, the Cougars got back within 18-13, but they could get no closer.
“We just came out really flat,” Bullitt Central head coach Danny Leasor said over the weekend. “I don’t know why. We had good preparation. We fed the kids before we left and we rode down in chartered buses. I just don’t know what happened.”
Bullitt Central intercepted Warren East quarterback Jimmy Burns three times and also recovered a fumble.
“We should have had three more interceptions,” Leasor said. “Normally when you get turnovers like that you win the game.”
The Cougars got another big game from freshman Trevor Carnell as he rushed for 134 yards on 23 carries. He also caught two passes for 24 yards.
“He was just Carnell,” Leasor said. “The game plan was to get him at least 20 touches.”
All of the touches belonged to Warren East early in the game. The Raiders (7-3) marched down the field with the opening kick-off and got the first points on an 11-yard pass from Burns to Christian Flores.
Bullitt Central then failed to move the ball and a shanked punt went just 5-yards and gave the Raiders the ball at the Cougar 28-yard line. A handful of plays later, the Raiders made it 12-0 on a 15-yard run by Steven Golden.
Warren East went for two points after each of their four touchdowns, failing on each attempt.
Bullitt Central finally broke through late in the first half with the help of a personal foul penalty on the Raiders that kept a drive alive on fourth down. Carnell took advantage of that when he broke free on a 45-yard scoring run.
Twice in the first half Bullitt Central ended Warren East drives with interceptions. One came at the 2-yard line while the other came in the endzone.
In the second half, Warren East went more to a running attack using senior Adarius Barnett as the lead runner. Barnett rushed for 128 of his 191 yards in the second half including a 55-yard run early in the third quarter for a touchdown.
“When we saw him on film, we didn’t think he was as good as the Warren East kid or the kid at North Bullitt (Todd Asbury),” Leasor said. “But, you have to tackle him. We had kids out in space with him who just didn’t make the tackles. We made him look better than average. He made the yardage so hats off to him.”
Bullitt Central never gave up. The team made it a game late when quarterback Bradley Combs found senior James Joiner open on a 32-yard pass play that pulled the Cougars within 18-13 with 2:41 remaining in the game. A two-point conversion pass fell incomplete.
At that point, Bullitt Central attempted an on-sides kick that didn’t work. That led to Barnett breaking free on a 43-yard run at the 1:05 mark.
The Cougars did keep the pressure on, reached the Raiders’ 25-yard line before an interception in the final 30 seconds ended any hope of a comeback.
Bullitt Central finished with 274 yards of total offense. Combs completed seven of 21 passes for 129 yards, but he was intercepted twice. Carnell had two of those catches for 24 yards and Joiner also had two catches for 44 yards. Five different players caught passes for the maroon and gray.
On the ground, Carnell had 129 of the 145 yards that Bullitt Central collected.
“Our kids took the loss hard,” Leasor said. “The kids played hard. They played hard at the end. We kept coming back. But then we had silly mistakes.”
Next Game: Bullitt Central will go on the road Friday for the first round of the Class 5-A play-offs when they go to Jeffersontown. The Chargers finished second in District Three with an 8-2 record. This past Friday, Jeffersontown beat Oldham County 40-36.
Game time at Jeffersontown on Friday is set for 7:30 p.m.