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HODGENVILLE - The Bullitt East Chargers were out of bullets on Friday in their district game with LaRue County as the clock ticked below two minutes and the red and gold trailing 19-14.
Heck, the Chargers didn’t even have a gun since starting quarterback Matt Bowles had left the game early in the first half with a shoulder injury.
With just 90 seconds remaining in the game, LaRue County was milking the clock when they opted to run the ball at the Bullitt East 11-yard line on fourth down instead of trying a field goal. They figured even if they didn’t get the first down, that Bullitt East would have to go the length of the field with a back-up quarterback who had not completed a pass in the game.
But, for the second time this season, and the second time in a district game, the interior of the Charger defense made a game saving play. The LaRue County running back hit a wall of Mason Kelly, Zach McCarthy and Adam Herth and the ball came loose and hit the ground. McCarthy picked up the ball and raced 89 yards to the endzone for the winning points.
Bullitt East converted a two-point conversion to win 22-19.
“It was the McCarthy Miracle,” Bullitt East head coach Doug Preston said when the team got back to Mount Washington. “We’ll take it anyway we can get it.”
The big play was reminiscent of the North Bullitt game when the middle of the defensive front caused a fumble when the Eagles had gotten inside the 1-yard line late in the third quarter. Bullitt East ended up winning that game 17-13.
In fact, Bullitt East finished 3-0 in district play this season with all three wins coming by three points.
Bullitt East was out of time-outs at the time. Because of that, Preston had gone for it on fourth down a few plays earlier, figuring the team wouldn’t get another chance. LaRue County held and then had the short field with the clock running out.
The Chargers then secured the win when senior Ricky Gray intercepted a pass.
Even without Bowles, the game was tied at 7-7 at halftime and the Chargers were up 14-7 heading into the fourth quarter. That changed when LaRue County scored a pair of touchdowns, but failed to convert either extra point, leaving the score 19-14.
But Bullitt East was limited in what it could do when junior Jonathan Bernard was forced into the quarterback duties. He is the junior-varsity signalcaller, but he had never taken a snap in a varsity game, although, he does play other positions as a starter with the varsity.
“We played hard,” Preston said. “I don’t know if I would say we played well. It was a defensive struggle. We were limited on offense. Johnny did a great job, but I didn’t want to put him in a tough situation.” He did some things I didn’t know he could do.”
The win was the second in a row for the Chargers and came after an ‘open’ week in the schedule. The red and gold are now 4-4 overall with two games remaining in the regular season.
“I was very proud of them,” Preston said of his team overcoming the adversity. “we didn’t get rattled. We played hard and hung together. We could have laid down, but we didn’t.
“LaRue County has a heck of a team,” the coach added. “It has been turnovers that have hurt them and it was again. They were very physical.”
The Hawks fell to 3-6 and will have the number four seed in the district with a 0-3 record.
In the first half, Bullitt East had ahead in the second quarter when McCarthy scored on a 27-yard run. In the third quarter, the Chargers had moved back ahead on a 51-yard run by Kyle Lingar.
Josh Smith kicked the extra point after each score.
However, early in the final frame, LaRue County scored on a 13-yard pass from quarterback Lucas Chaudoin to Ryan Wafford. The kicked failed after that score, but LaRue County then moved ahead on a 3-yard run by Drew Newberry.
The final stats were as even as the score would have indicated.
Bullitt East had 249 yards of total offense to 242 for the Hawks. LaRue County had one more first down, 12 to 11.
The Chargers collected all of that yardage on the ground as the passing attack failed to complete a pass in seven attempts.
LaRue County, which ran 15 more plays from scrimmage than the Chargers, finished with 146 yards on the ground and Chaudoin completed seven of 11 passes for 96 yards with the one interception late in the game. LaRue County had just 50 yards of offense in the first half.
Next Game: Bullitt East will be at home for Senior Night on Friday as they play host to Class 6-A power Manual. The Crimsons are 6-2 after rolling past Butler 41-20 last week.
Game time at Bullitt East is set for 7:30 p.m. on Halloween Night.