By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – The impact of one victory can be overemphasized, subject to prisoner-of-the-moment hyperbole, but that’s not the case with Bedford North Lawrence’s emphatic triumph over Jeffersonville on Friday night.
With so much at stake, with a huge crowd and ultra-enthusiastic student section, with the official dedication of the new turf field, with that giant American flag as inspiration over the north end zone, with an eight-game home losing streak as baggage, the Stars responded to that pressure with an outstanding performance to beat down a nemesis. What a night, from the cutting of the ribbon to the gift wrapping of Derrick Barker’s first W as the new head coach. It was needed, from so many perspectives.
Football success, probably more than other other sport, is a team triumph. There were so many big plays, until the running clock wiped away the final 16:37. Many get overlooked when the bulk of the attention – quite appropriately- goes to touchdowns. But there were multiple jolt snaps that might not be accounted for in a box score but were no less crucial.
So here’s a second look at a historic win:
- Although the Red Devils scored their first touchdown on this bizarre sequence, Greg Gilbert smacked down, with a left-handed swat, the field-goal attempt on Jeff’s first drive, the first of several impact plays by the junior defensive lineman.
- The Stars kept their first drive alive with a key fourth-down conversion, a quick hit pass from Memphis Louden to Ryker Hughes for 9 yards. Louden scored via a 14-yard scramble on the next play.
- While senior captain Jake Terrell applied pressure on Jeffersonville quarterback Cole Phillips, Jesse Brock sat back in zone coverage and stepped in front of the pass for his third interception of the season, returning the pick inside the 5-yard line. Zane Anderson crashed over for the touchdown on the next play.
- When the punt from Jeffersonville’s Yuri Abrao sailed over his head and bounced along the turf, Dylan Nikirk calmly gathered the loose ball at his 40 yard line, got shield blocks from Tyson Patterson and Lyrik Baker on the sideline and raced to the 8. Anderson again scored on one play.
- Collin Whitaker recovered the ensuing onside kick, and the Stars went for the home-run ball. Hughes, racing down the left sideline, made an incredible catch, adjusting to leap for the short pass, concentrating as it bounced off his hands and the defender, and came down with a 39-yard grab to set up the next Anderson touchdown.
- Brye Lewis, sprinting (like his hair was on fire) to catch up with a free receiver deep in the secondary, turned with perfect timing to make an interception in the red zone.
- On the next Jeff series, after initial pressure from Terrell, Gilbert swooped in to sack Phillips on fourth down and end the last real threat by the Devils.
- On BNL’s first drive of the second half, facing 3rd down and 13, on what might have been viewed as a concede-and-punt play, Piaire Childs turned that call into something electric, taking a simple toss right, cutting behind blockers, hesitating for an instant, then hitting the crease to explode for a 53-yard touchdown run that was the death blow to any Jeffersonville comeback.
- Patterson kept up the defensive intensity, batting down Phillips’ first pass of the second half.
- The next BNL drive concluded with another sensational, big-play touchdown. Lewis, lined up in the slot, zipped past defenders into the middle and broke wide open. He stretched, at full speed, to clutch the back half of the ball and took off like wild dogs were on his heels, racing home from 79 yards.
- In an effort which typified the BNL defensIve performance, Ryan Perry whacked down another pass, while being blocked backward.
- When Abrao fumbled a punt snap, Maddox Ray blasted into the backfield from his outside rush position to smother Abrao as he searched for the ball. Gilbert came up with it, and three plays later Anderson scored a fourth time to trigger the running clock and cap the blowout.
Applause for BNL’s defensive front seven (Braxton Brown, Perry, Patterson, Terrell, Kaedyn Bennett, Whitaker and Lewis) for their run stoppage. Jeffersonville had two backs both go over 100 yards in its opening win over Seymour. The Devils didn’t total 100 as a team against the Stars, who had given up 100 points in the first two games. They were challenged and responded.
Applause for the offensive line, including Nic Mansker, Isaac Jackson, Garrett Hayes, Kline Woodward and freshman Junior Arellano, for their grunt work as Anderson got the glory for his four touchdowns.
While the entire state was stunned by Seymour’s 28-24 comeback win over Columbus East that ended a remarkable 96-game conference winning streak by the Olympians, it did not guarantee a new league champion. But it certainly opened the door for another to end East’s 17-yard stranglehold on the HHC crown.
The Stars are in position, with that opening league victory, to challenge for it. They must duplicate the effort and execution from last week – no momentum-killing turnovers, very few missed tackles or assignments, outstanding defense and big plays from the multiple offensive weapons on their disposal – to remain a factor until the final week of the regular season.
There’s a long way to go. The Stars are headed in the right direction.