PREP FOOTBALL: Bowling Green shuts down Trojans (9/14)

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By Chuck Jones

By CHUCK JONES cjones@thenewsenterprise.com RADCLIFF — Misery loves company. The Bowling Green Purples have had their struggles on offense in the first two games, so they turned to their defense to wreak havoc on the North Hardin Trojans and made them experience the same troubles. Bowling Green turned a fumble and an interception into touchdowns as well as a blocked punt as the Purples — ranked third in the Associated Press Class 5-A poll — cruised to a 28-7 victory over North Hardin at Ray Story Stadium. “We are going to have to depend on our defense,” Bowling Green coach Kevin Wallace said. “(The offense) is not coming along like I thought it would. It’s kind of frustrating. We haven’t been able to run it on anybody.” Mistakes did the North Hardin Trojans in for the second consecutive week. Last week, Warren Central returned a fumble and punt for touchdowns in the first half on its way to a 34-19 victory over the Trojans. “In some areas, we’re seeing improvement,” North Hardin coach Crad Jaggers said. “But in others … we’re still having too many blown assignments. We’ll get it corrected. There’s nothing we can’t fix. The past two weeks, I think we’ve been outcoached. I take full responsibility for the last two weeks.” North Hardin’s offense showed signs of life early, crossing midfield twice and one drive ended on downs at the Bowling Green 21. But its next nine possessions netted a mere one first down as the Trojans, ranked ninth in the AP Class 6-A poll, punted six times and turned the ball over twice. Through three quarters, they had only 89 yards of total offense. “We struggled all night offensively,” Jaggers said. “Our running game was non-existent. It (the offense) was bad. I take full responsibility for that. It was one of those nights. I was confused as a play caller and our execution was poor. It seemed like it was always something.” North Hardin senior quarterback LaRod King, who had opened the season with back-to-back 200-yard performances, never got on track. He completed 9-of-22 passes for 75 yards as Bowling Green harassed him all night long. He was intercepted once before sitting out the final 14 minutes due to a quadriceps injury. “They were blitzing it seemed like every time,” King said. “There was a little miscommunication but that’s going to happen. They had a good game plan. Bowling Green is not what they say they are. We didn’t come ready to play and we made too many silly mistakes. Even though we lost, we came together as a team.” If there’s a silver lining in the loss, Jaggers said that is it. Despite being behind 28-0 through three quarters, he said his team never gave up. “I thought we grew up tonight,” Jaggers said. “That game in years past, like last year or even when I was here (as an assistant), would have been 100-0. I thought we showed a lot of character. I’m not happy at all with losing, and there’s no such thing as a moral victory, but I thought we grew tonight.” North Hardin’s defense held the Purples to 214 yards of total offense, but three of Bowling Green’s four scoring drives were 37 yards or shorter due to the fumble, interception and blocked punt. “It all goes back to practice,” North Hardin senior Marcell Haynes said. “We didn’t come ready (to play) again. We didn’t prepare as a team. The coaches did their jobs, but we didn’t do ours. Our job as a defense is to pick up the offense. We had to step up and make plays and we didn’t do that.” After North Hardin turned the ball over on downs at the Bowling Green 21, the Purples (2-1) put together an eight-play, 79-yard drive with senior Tevin Barksdale capping it on a 2-yard run. The conversion pass failed but Bowling Green led 6-0 with 10:04 remaining in the second quarter. Things began to unravel for North Hardin in the final 6 minutes of the first half. Barksdale intercepted a King pass, which set up Barksdale’s 14-yard scoring run, and a Justin Berry fumble led to another touchdown – senior J.P. Jackson hooked up with junior Lavance Anderson on a 21-yard scoring strike – to put Bowling Green ahead 21-0 at halftime. On North Hardin’s first possession of the second half, the Trojans’ struggles continued and went three-and-out. Bowling Green junior Jay Beard blocked Daniel Padilla’s punt and recovered it at the North Hardin 15. On the next play, Barksdale, who had 44 yards on seven carries, bulled his way into the end zone to stretch the Bowling Green lead to 28-0. The Trojans (1-2) cut the lead to 28-7 on Berry’s 5-yard scoring run with 9:22 remaining in the fourth quarter. The drive, which was aided by two offsides penalties on Bowling Green that resulted in first downs, got a spark from Berry, who rushed for 29 yards on the drive, and sophomore quarterback Vincent Davis, who hit senior Greg Johnson for a 26-yard gain. “Austin Berry is our best running back,” Jaggers said. “But it’s my fault. He’s so valuable on defense and special teams that we wanted to give him a break on offense. But he’s going to have to play both ways. There’s no way around it.” UP NEXT: North Hardin hosts Class 6-A, District 2 rival Nelson County (2-1) next Friday at 8 p.m. Chuck Jones can be reached at 505-1759