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Second half surge powers Eagles past speedy Valley

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By Mike Farner

VALLEY STATION – Down 6-0 at halftime, North Bullitt head coach Brett Newton had no fiery speech for his Eagles.

Instead, it was a gut check time.

It was a time for the seniors to either dig deep or go home. It was playoff time.

On this cold, bitter night, it was a time when those seniors manning the offensive and defensive line, stood up and made a stand.

At the end of the evening, the Eagles would advance to a Class 4A semifinal showdown on Friday against the Bullitt East Chargers.

Completely dominating both sides of the ball, North Bullitt scored 20 unanswered points to defeat the host Valley Vikings 20-6.

“The guys decided they didn’t want the season to end,” Newton said matter-of-factly about the change in the second half. “We felt very fortunate to be down only six points at halftime.”

The Eagle supporters can thank the defense for the small halftime disadvantage.

With explosive Gerwan Brewer, who had over 1,300 yards rushing this season, splitting playing time at quarterback and tailback, at the controls, the Vikings used Lee Hayden and Kendrick Lancaster to carry the ball on the first drive of the night.

On the 11th play of the drive, the Vikings fumbled and Dalton Cissell recovered at the Eagle 10.

Like most of the opening-half drives, the Eagle offense did nothing.

After a three-and-out drive and a short punt, the Viking offense started at the Eagle 34. However, the defense held once again as Travis Ridley intercepted his fourth pass in the past two games at the 3-yard-line.

North Bullitt once again could not make a first down and Valley started its next drive at the Eagle 42.

The Vikings advanced to the Eagle 4. On fourth and 1, Ridley made the big play once again by stopping Brewer in the open field for a one-yard loss.

In bad field position, the Eagles did manage their lone first down of the opening half. The drive again stalled at the 21 and Valley finally capitalized on the great field position.

Starting at the Eagle 25, Brewer went to the air for his only two completions of the evening. His first hookup with for 17 yards to Tyler Flener.

On third and goal from the 5, Brewer connected with Lancaster for the touchdown with 3:07 left in the second quarter. The extra point was blocked.

North Bullitt’s only offensive play in Viking territory came after a blocked punt with 20 seconds left. Sophomore quarterback Dalton Hadley’s lone play resulted in an incomplete pass from the 40 to James Whitfill as time expired.

A completely different North Bullitt team left the locker room after intermission.

Although the Eagles didn’t score on their first possession, the field position began to change.

Starting on its own 40 for its second drive, North Bullitt’s offensive line went to work.

David Elmore started the drive with a 20-yard run.

On a key fourth and a long 2 at the 20, quarterback Jordan Mayberry drew a Viking offsides for new life.

In his only completion of the night, Mayberry hit Brandon Sharver across the middle for a 15-yard touchdown. C.J. Parker kicked the extra point for the 7-6 lead with 53 seconds left in the third quarter.

The defense rose up once again and stopped Valley.

A poor punt gave North Bullitt the ball at its own 45. This time, Mayberry had the big gain with a 16-yard pickup after bouncing off several Viking defenders.

Sticking to the ground game, Cissell had one of his few big gains with an 11-yard pickup. On the ninth play, Cissell bulled the ball into the end zone from the 2-yard-line on fourth down.

With 7:48 to go, Parker’s extra point made it 14-6.

North Bullitt salted away the victory as Valley fumbled on its second play from scrimmage.

With Cissell on the sidelines, Newton turned to Elmore and the offensive line to take over.

Starting at the Viking 47, North Bullitt’s full-house backfield led Elmore to make runs of 12, 18 and 9. It took three plays to score from the 1 as Elmore got the final call with 3 minutes remaining for the final 20-6 margin.

“The line just opened up holes,” said Elmore, who led the Eagles with 98 yards in 15 carries, with all but six yards coming after halftime.

“We just didn’t want it to be our last game.”

Elmore said the coaches told him to run hard and hold onto the ball on the cold night.

“The line was just great,” said Elmore, who could only smile when thinking about facing Bullitt East on Friday for a berth in the final four.

“We’ll be ready. It will be a great game.”

Going into the playoffs, Newton told the players that everyone the Eagles would face was within a touchdown of each other.

“We knew it would be tough,” said Newton, whose team is now 8-4 on the season.

Coming into the game, Newton said Brewer was obviously the main concern due to his athletic ability. But the game plan was simple, run the

ball offensively and try to contain Brewer defensively.

While frustrated at halftime, Newton said there were no major scheme changes. It was a matter of the linemen going out and doing their job.

The Eagles had no turnovers and capitalized on three miscues by the Vikings.

“We played solid in the second half,” said Newton.

The first touchdown was a normal call in getting Sharver down field from his tight end position as Valley was defending the run. After receivers having trouble in the first half, the sophomore grabbed the Mayberry toss in the seam for the score.

After that, it was all on the ground.

“They had to do it,” Newton said of the players. “We felt we could line up and run the ball. In the second half, we did.”

He couldn’t explain the slow start offensively. After another good week of practice, Newton felt good. He didn’t feel the weather was a factor.

“Defensively, we played well the whole night,” said Newton. “It just took the offense awhile. We knew we didn’t want to get down two scores.”

For the game, Valley had 172 yards of offense but only two first downs in the second half.

Unofficially, Elmore had 98 yards on 15 carries and Cissell had 80 yards on 21 carries. The Eagle offense had 207 yards on the night.

The only statistic not won by the Eagles was in penalties. The visitors were flagged six times for 45 yards, including three on having too many players in the huddle. Ironically, the lone Viking penalty of the night came on the fourth-down offsides call.

NEXT GAME - It will be post-Thanksgiving dessert for local football fans as North Bullitt travels to Mount Washington on Friday for an encore game against Bullitt East. The Chargers won the regular season contest. The winner on Friday will host a Class 4A semifinal game. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.