Late surge, penalties fuel Eagle victory

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By Thomas Barr

      OKOLONA - By looking at the final score, it appeared the North Bullitt Eagles had an easy time Friday evening against the Southern Trojans.

     However, there were some uncomfortable moments for the Eagles before putting away a penalty-prone host 36-13.

     North Bullitt claimed its second straight victory of the season and, while not overjoyed, head coach Brett Newton saw bits and pieces of his young squad coming together.

     "We must play better each week," said Newton. "We're capable in spots but we just have to put more things together each week. Our toughest opponent is coming up on Friday."

     Before looking ahead to a revenge game against South Oldham in the Eagles' home opener, Newton could sit back and savor a rough and tough victory against Southern.

     For a second straight week, North Bullitt fell behind immediately.

     After the visitors drove to the Trojan 10, the drive stalled. Southern proceeded to march on its best drive of the evening. On the ninth play, quarterback John Marshall found Deon Yelder open from 56 yards out with 4:42 left in the first quarter. DeAndre Means kicked the extra point.

     The North Bullitt offense sputtered until mid-way in the second quarter.

     Taking over at its own 30, North Bullitt marched 10 plays and kept the ball on the ground.

     With Josh Exton, Mitchell Allen, Travis Downing and quarterback Patrick Egnor handling most of the runs, the Eagles scored when Exton rushed in from the 3. A penalty had actually nullified Exton's first score. Allen ran in the conversion for an 8-7 going into intermission.

     "We felt pretty good at halftime," said Newton. "We hadn't play real well but we were leading. We felt we could start to overpower them in the second half."

     The game plan worked to perfection.

     Allen intercepted Marshall's pass on the third play of the quarter and North Bullitt went to work from the 37. Exton ran 23 yards to the 10 and a personal foul on Southern took the ball to the 5. It would be Exton who would get the final call and the touchdown with 9:24 left in the quarter.

     Southern appeared primed to score late in the period; however, the penalty bug rose up.

     Marshall and Yelder connected for a 15-yard gain to the Eagle 18; however, an ineligible receiver downfield killed that drive.

     On its next drive, Means had a 20-yard run to the Eagle 30 wiped out by a holding call. That was another drive killer.

     Getting the ball to open the fourth quarter, North Bullitt started at midfield. Thanks to two personal fouls against the Trojans, North Bullitt moved to the 5, where Brandon Cundiff reached the end zone with 6:39 left to play.

Southern kept things interesting when Marshall and Means connected on a 35-yard scoring toss with 7:45 left to play, making it 20-13.

Play was halted for several minutes as junior Eric Miller was taken to the hospital complaining of next pain. The Eagle defensive back had movement in all limbs.

Newton asked Downing, Allen and Exton how they felt on a hot, humid evening. All responded they were ready to go.

And go the Eagles went.    

After the delay, North Bullitt took just over a minute to score. Exton started with a 29-yard run and Allen had a 17-yard scamper. Downing finished it off with a 6-yard touchdown run. Egnor's two-point run made it 28-13.

The final score came as Allen broke through the middle and ran 48 yards for a touchdown with 3:13 left in the contest. Egnor hit Downing for the conversion pass.

     Newton was pleased with his team's composure in a game that saw over 200 yards in penalties, including several unsportsmanlike conduct flags. Instead of getting into the fray, Newton said his players walked away and avoided any issues.

     With several players banged up, Newton said it wasn't a good week of practice. He was pleased that the Eagles seemed to be in much better condition physically.

     But he was still weary of injuries to a thin roster.

     "We're getting better," said Newton. "I thought the defense played well tonight. Facing a team with big, tall, quick athletes will always keep you awake at night."

     Offensively, he thought the offensive line took control in the second half. And he remains impressed with all the running backs who touch the ball.

     For the night, North Bullitt had 243 yards on the ground. Southern aided the Eagle attack committing 12 penalties for 135 yards.

     NEXT GAME - The Eagles will play at their home field on Friday with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff against South Oldham, which beat Bullitt Central on the final play of the season opening week.