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The John Hardin Bulldogs have experienced heartbreak in the playoffs, and the Bowling Green Purples added another chapter Friday night.
The Purples used a trick play — a hook and ladder — and then converted a 2-point conversion with less than 2 minutes to pull out a 14-13 victory over John Hardin in the Class 5-A state semifinals.
Bowling Green (14-0) trailed nearly the entire game, but came up with a big play to save its season. On fourth-and-9 from its own 26, junior quarterback Devin Hayes completed a 5-yard pass to junior Nacarius Fant, who flipped the ball to junior Blake Pillow. With the Bulldogs flying up to tackle Fant, Pillow raced 69 yards for the touchdown.
The Bowling Green extra-point team raced onto the field, but the Purples called a timeout. Following the timeout, Hayes hooked up with Fant on the 2-point conversion to give Bowling Green its first lead at 14-13 with 1:36 remaining.
John Hardin picked up a first down on the ensuing possession after junior Patrick Anderson completed a 17-yard pass to senior Dorian Collins. After Anderson spiked the ball to stop the clock, he was sacked for a 5-yard loss on second down and his third down pass hit off Collins’ hands to set up fourth-and-15. The Bulldogs failed to convert which sealed the win for the Purples.
Anderson completed 9-of-15 passes for 94 yards. Senior halfback Wade Holtsclaw rushed for 109 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries. Senior fullback Garrett Ray added 56 yards on 10 attempts, while senior halfback Jalen Fleming had 49 yards on nine tries.
The Bulldogs limited Bowling Green to 276 yards of total offense, the Purples lowest total of the season not counting the Henderson County game which was called because of weather in the second quarter. They also forced two turnovers with senior linebacker Domonick Brown and Anderson each coming up with an interception.
It looked like it was going to be a shootout early.
John Hardin marched 65 yards on eight plays on its opening possession with Holtsclaw scoring from 13 yards out to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 7:39 remaining.
Bowling Green answered quickly as Hayes hit Fant in stride for a 53-yard touchdown 38 seconds later. John Hardin junior defensive tackle Matt Elam blocked the extra point.
The teams settled in as the game turned into a defensive slugfest.
After Brown’s interception in the second quarter, the Bulldogs used a seven-play, 53-yard drive to stretch the lead. Anderson scored a 5-yard option run. The Purples jumped offsides twice on the point after, so John Hardin went for a 2-point conversion. Junior fullback Chris Smith appeared to be in the end zone, but the officials ruled otherwise.
John Hardin finished the season 13-1 for the third consecutive season.
Chuck Jones can be reached at (270) 505-1759 or email@example.com.