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By NICK BAUMGARDNER Bowling Green Daily News BOWLING GREEN — Warren Central and North Hardin both found out Friday how important special teams and defense can be. It was a positive lesson for the Dragons, and a negative one for the Trojans. Despite ending the first half with minus-7 yards of offense, Warren Central got a fumble-return touchdown, a punt-return score and some outstanding defense to outlast visiting North Hardin, 34-19. “I hope that we realize one thing from this football game, and that is that special teams play a big, big role in winning football games and that you have to be on your toes at all times,” Warren Central coach Bill Cox said. North Hardin senior quarterback LaRod King got the scoring started with a 9-yard score to put the Trojans up 7-0 early in the first quarter. But the Dragon defense made their first statement of the game two drives later, as Brad Rice scooped up a fumble and rumbled 49 yards for a score to tie the score at 7-all. King was at it again two possessions later, hitting senior wide receiver Josh Stone for a 65-yard scoring strike. Central was able to block the point-after try, leaving North Hardin up 13-7 early in the second. After both teams failed to break through on their next two possessions, Warren Central’s Cortez Baker fielded a Trojan punt, shook two defenders and outran the rest of the defense for an 85-yard score to put the Dragons up 14-13 – a lead they would hold until halftime. The Warren Central offense finally broke out early in the third, as running back Tabarus Mitchell broke off a 53-yard run to set up his own 4-yard scoring play to put Warren Central up 20-13. The Dragon defense would bend but not break, forcing North Hardin to turn the ball over on downs for the fourth time. And after the Trojans committed two straight pass interference penalties on the next Dragon possession, Mitchell was able to seal the deal with a 1-yard plunge to put Warren Central up 27-13 with 9:49 to go. Although Warren Central was outgained 338-185, the Dragon defense forced two turnovers, five turnovers on downs and two punts – paving the way for the offense to come to life in the second. “The defense and special teams kept us in there and gave us a chance to win,” Cox said. “And I thought that sooner or later our offense was going to come together a little bit and give us something and of course in the second half they were able to.” Cox said he was extremely happy with the way his defensive unit responded after allowing 49 points to Boyle County last week. “I was very proud of them; they gave up some points last week and our offense didn’t help them early,” Cox said. “But I thought overall our football team worked hard this week and improved in some areas. “We still have a lot of work to do, but it’s good to see some progress.” North Hardin coach Crad Jaggers said that the difference in the game was preparation as he praised the Dragons for being ready to play while his team was not. “They have a good ball club and I’m sure they worked harder Monday through Thursday than we did,” Jaggers said. “They deserved to win the ball game. “When you’re dealing with 16 to 18-year-olds you never know, but I hope we learn a lot – and if we don’t come ready to work on Monday we’ll get embarrassed next week.” Mitchell finished with 86 yards and two scores on 11 carries, while Warren Central quarterback Troy Halcomb – subbing for a suspended Quenton Smith – finished 4-for-10 with 82 yards, including a 32-yard scoring pass to Denzel Carpenter. King led the way for the Trojans, going 21-for-37 for 191 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. King also had 119 yards and a score on 16 carries. UP NEXT: Warren Central (1-1) travels to John Hardin (2-0) next week, while North Hardin (1-1) visits Bowling Green (1-1).