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No thriller - J'town's Jackson ends NB's season

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2011 Class 5-A Football Play-offs - Second Round: Jeffersontown 26, North Bullitt 14

By Thomas Barr

     HEBRON ESTATES - It was a night of unusual occurrences for the North Bullitt Eagles on Friday evening.

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    Seldom have the Eagles seen themselves beaten in the rushing game by an opponent.
    Seldom have the Eagles committed four turnovers.
    Seldom have the Eagles failed to contain a quarterback.
    Seldom have the Eagles failed to make adjustments and overcome early adversity.
    And seldom have the Eagles tasted defeat.
    Unfortunately, for head coach Brett Newton's team, all those things occurred on a single evening as the Eagles fell 26-14 to the Jeffersontown Chargers in the second round of the Class 5-A playoffs.
    The loss closes out a magical season for the Eagles with a 10-2 record.
    Things started out as usual for the Eagles - a scoring drive on its first possession.
    North Bullitt won the toss and took the ball. Newton wanted to put the pressure on Jeffersontown, which is now 10-2.
    The strategy worked as the Eagles covered 76 yards on 10 plays - all on the ground.
    The big play was a 40-yard run by Ryan Collins. With Todd Asbury bottled up most of the night, Newton spread the ball around on the opening drive as Mitchell Allen and Travis Downing also touched the rock.
    From the six, Asbury covered the final yards for the touchdown with 7:29 left in the first quarter. Derek Schweinhart nailed the extra point.
    Things looked especially good for the Eagles when Collins recovered an on-side kick on the next play. However, the first of several key mistakes came when the ball was immediately fumbled back to Jeffersontown.
    With the defense making a stand, the Eagles fumbled on its very next play.
    While the visitors failed to capitalize on whether turnover, Newton said they were the turning points of the game.
    ""We had two opportunities to pick up two touchdowns," Newton said of the ill-fated drives. "I think it really took our momentum away. And it really hurt us emotionally. I think we got flat after that."
    With the task all evening of chasing quarterback DeMichael Jackson, North Bullitt bottled up the talented athlete for most of the first quarter. However, with the ball at the Eagle 35, Jackson went to work through the air.
    He found Mikal Howard open at the 5. Jackson then finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown run. Charles Mucker's kick tied the score at 7-7 with 11:56 left in the first half.
    While the Eagles would get only one first down the rest of the half, Jeffersontown found a way to light up the scoreboard with 7:32 left.
    From his own 43, Jackson kept the ball and seemed to run through every Eagle defender en route to his second touchdown. Mucker's extra point accounted for the 14-7 halftime score.
    The visitors tried to put the game away on its opening drive after intermission. Jeffersontown went on a 13-play drive but stalled by inches on fourth down at the Eagle 24.
    Pinned deep in its own territory much of the night, North Bullitt had to punt. Starting on its own 42, Jackson got some help from Charvez Strickland who scored from the 50-yard-line with 2:54 left in the third period.
    With some assistance from a Charger personal foul, North Bullitt would close the score to 20-14 on its next drive.
    Patrick Egnor went to the air and hit Zack Foster for a 19-yard gain. From that point on, Asbury would get the ball to the 12 and an unsportsmanlike penalty put North Bullitt at the 6. On third down, Collins busted through the line for the touchdown with 10:29 left in the game.
    The Eagles would get one more chance to take the lead. However, a two-yard punt gave Jeffersontown the ball at the Eagle 25. On the first play, Jackson took the ball and sliced his way off the right side of the line for the clincher.
    Despite the tears shared in the post-game huddle, Newton said the loss could not diminish the accomplishments of the year.
    "I'm so proud of this team," said Newton. "No one would have thought we'd have this type of record. It's a credit to the kids and the coaches."
    One of the biggest overachievers may be Asbury, who broke Dalton Cissell's single-season rushing mark with 2,157 yards.   
    "When Todd came in here, nobody knew him but a skinny 5-foot-8 kid," said Newton. "But he worked his butt off every day and became an excellent football player. More than that, he's an excellent young man."
    On this particular night, there was too much Jackson.
    "He's special," said Newton. "We'd be in good position but we couldn't bring him down."
    Jackson ran for 240 yards on 29 carries and threw for another 101 yards on seven completions.
    "We just couldn't get a lot of clean shots at him," said Newton. "He's good."
    To accomplish a 10-win season, Newton said his team had to stay mistake-free. That didn't happen on Friday.
    "We were ready to play and, after that first drive, I really felt good," said Newton. "But we can't make three or four turnovers and win a game. We got down after that."
    "We had our chances," added Newton. "I would have liked to seen how the game went if we could have put another touchdown up early in the game. It might have been different."
    With Jeffersontown playing all 11 guys in the five-yard box, Newton said North Bullitt needed to pass the ball. However, the pressure was so quick that it made it difficult. In the first half, the Eagles had a couple of its patented pass plays fall incomplete.
    "Jeffersontown is a very, very talented team," said Newton. "They played aggressively and very physical."
    For the game, North Bullitt had 176 yards in total offense, 136 on the ground. Conversely, Jeffersontown ran for 314 yards and passed for another 101.
    Newton said he hoped the loss doesn't dampen the accomplishments.
    "There will be only one team happy at the end of the season," said Newton. "I couldn't be more proud of this team."