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SHEPHERDSVILLE - There is never a good time to play a bad football game.
On Friday, the Bullitt Central Cougars picked the worst possible time to lay the proverbial ‘egg’ - the first round of the Class 5-A play-offs. Unable to do anything right, the second-seeded Cougars dropped a 63-13 decision at home to third-seeded Jeffersontown.
The setback ended the season for the Cougars with an 8-3 record. It was the second straight season that Bullitt Central has posted that final number.
But in the recent past, Cougar head coach Danny Leasor felt that he had pretty much gotten the most out of his teams in the final analysis. That was not the case this time. The veteran coach thought this team had the possibility of making a deep run into the post-season.
After the game, which had a running clock for much of the second half, Leasor was still unable to figure out what happened to his team. There was no fire, there was no emotion and there was no crispness. Bullitt Central just played a bad game against a good team.
“It was disappointing and most of all it was embarrassing,” Leasor said later. “I don’t know if I’ve had a team in 41 years (of coaching) play as bad as that. I can’t sugar coat it any better than that.
“This was the worst of the worst times to have this happen,” the coach added. “We had a good crowd and a good week of practice. The bottom just fell out. I’m very embarrassed now.”
For much of the game, this was a Cougar team that Leasor and his coaches had not seen this season.
“My first thought was ‘where is my team?’” the coach said. “Is this the same team we had in ten games? We worked so hard and then this happens. I’m embarrassed and disappointed. It comes back to the man at the top and that’s me. I’ll take the full blame.”
All week long leading up to the game, the talk had been about the game coming down to Bullitt Central’s strength up front vs. Jeffersontown’s speed. That battle never materialized. The Chargers won the speed events and also dominated play between the tackles.
“They were good and we knew they were fast,” Leasor said. “They stuck it too us. They didn’t sub at all. It’s my job to get our defense ready to play and we didn’t do that.
“Speed kills,” the coach pointed out. But we didn’t tackle. It looked like the old Bullitt Central had reared its ugly head. I was stunned. They hurt us up front on both sides of the ball. We were bigger and stronger, but they whipped us.”
Jeffersontown came out on fire and never looked back. The Chargers had the ball seven times in the first half and they scored six touchdowns. One of the scores came on a 35-yard interception return of a screen pass. It was 21-0 at the end of the first quarter, but then Bullitt Central’s defense stopped the Chargers on downs when T.J. Flener broke up a long pass at the goal line.
Bullitt Central reversed the field and marched 64 yards in just five plays. Jeremaie Bennett picked up 14 yards on the first play and then broke free for another 17 yards. Two plays gained nothing, but on third down quarterback Damion Wibbels connected with Flener for a 37-yard touchdown.
Within 21-7, the Cougars couldn’t have held the momentum any less amount of time. Jeffersontown returned the kick-off to Bullitt Central’s 40-yard line. There was a 20-yard pass completion and then Demichael Jackson busted loose for a 20-yard touchdown run.
The next two Bullitt Central possessions ended with punts and each time Jeffersontown marched right back to the promised-land. One drive went 75 yards in seven plays and the last one, in the final minutes of the half, took just four plays to go 52 yards with the touchdown coming on a 12-yard pass from quarterback Joey Pierce to Tim Jackson with 45 seconds remaining in the half.
That made it 42-7 at halftime.
When Jeffersontown scored the firs two times it had the ball in the second half, the clock started to run constantly. Bullitt Central’s last score came on a 16-yard run by Wibbels as time expired. The teams didn’t even attempt an extra point play.
“I don’t feel sorry for the kids or myself,” Leasor concluded. “When you get the opportunity you can’t let it pass. I believed in my heart that we would be playing next week.
“I hope the younger kids learn a lesson from this,” the coach added. “You have to be ready every night.”
Jeffersontown finished with 437 yards of total offense including 240 yards on the ground. Pierce completed 10 of his 17 passes for 197 yards.
Bullitt Central pick up ten first down and had 223 yards of total offense. The only pass completion in seven attempts was the touchdown to Flener. The rest of the yardage, 186 yards, came on the ground.
Bennett, in his final game as a Cougar, carried the ball 18 times for 107 yards. That gave him 1,448 yards for the season.