Bear claws snap on Stars as Cubs stun BNL 21-14

MADISON – Madison’s Colin Yancey looks for running room against BNL’s defense. Yancey scored three times as the Cubs conquered the Stars 21-14 on Friday night.

By Justin Sokeland

MADISON – The trap became an ambush, a bear snare that snapped shut. Despite the warnings, which should have revealed the danger, Bedford North Lawrence never saw – until it was too late – the claws, couldn’t escape the jaws of a demoralizing defeat.

With two early turnovers converted into touchdowns, with an electrifying kickoff return to start the second half, Madison caught the Stars in look-ahead mode and ended BNL’s dominance in the series with an impressive victory to punctuate its Senior Night with a signature win on Friday night.

Colin Yancey, outstanding no matter what position he claimed, scored all three Madison touchdowns as the Cubs stunned the Stars 21-14, ending BNL’s modest two-game winning streak and conquering BNL on home turf for the first time since 1997.

Yancey was a running fancy, scoring twice in a 40-second span in the first quarter as BNL (4-4) self-destructed with turnovers to set a disturbing tone. Then he broke BNL’s spirit with a sensational 91-yard return for a three-score lead that was too much for the Stars to overcome with a late surge.

In the classic trap-game scenario, with a showdown looming next week for a share of the conference title, BNL fell into the pit. The Cubs (4-4) took advantage of the mistakes, and if BNL wasn’t flat when game started, the low-tire-pressure warning lights were on when it ended.

”A lot of bad things,” BNL coach Derrick Barker said. “A poor job by me getting them ready to play. We weren’t ready to play when the game started. I blame myself for that. We spotted them 14 points and that’s tough to come back.”

BNL’s first drive showed some promise until Madison’s Myles Moon pounced on a Cal Gates fumble. Seven plays later, all on the ground, Yancey burst up the middle for a 17-yard touchdown and a quick lead. On BNL’s next snap, Moon struck again, intercepting Memphis Louden’s pass over the middle and racing to the 17-yard line. Two plays later, Yancey scored from the 8. And BNL was in trouble.

“When you have a short field and are able to capitalize on the momentum, it’s very huge for our offense,” Madison coach LeRoy Wilson said.

MADISON – BNL’s Dylan Nikirk absorbs a hit after making one of his five catches.

BNL couldn’t respond, punting to conclude its next three possessions before failing on fourth down at its own 42. And when Yancey took the second-half kickoff the distance – picking up a bouncing ball near the right sideline, cutting to midfield, breaking a tackle, stiff-arming the last defender and winning the footrace down the left sideline while nearly running out of gas – the Cubs were in command.

“When you have an All-State kid back there, he’s going to make a play,” said Wilson, who revealed he had the hands team on the field for the kickoff, expecting an onside kick. “We’ve been waiting for that, and they finally kicked him the ball. That was huge.”

BNL came to life, hoping to duplicate the miracle comeback at Jeffersonville earlier this season, in the fourth quarter. Louden connected with Kole Bailey for a 43-yard bomb, setting up Collin Whittaker’s 3-yard score with. 7:18 left. On the next drive, Louden completed five passes, the last for 11 yards to Ryker Hughes for the touchdown with 3:53 to play.

This time, the Stars had to try the onside kick, and Avery Darnell swallowed up the line-drive attempt. From there, the Cubs ran out the clock without much difficulty.

”They didn’t lay down and quit, they kept fighting,” Barker said. “Ultimately we came up one or two plays short. We gave ourselves a chance, but a lot of mistakes, a lot of unforced errors.”

MADISON – BNL quarterback Memphis Louden scans the field for an open receiver. Louden threw for 150 yards and a touchdown.

Van Skinner paced the Cubs with 114 rushing yards, while Yancey finished with 89. He also caught a 27-yard pass, so his total yardage (207) almost equaled BNL’s total (213).

“He’s good everywhere,” Barker said. “But it wasn’t a one-man show. Skinner did a good job. We couldn’t set the edge on the run game. It was a poor game plan by me and a poor job executing it. When that happens, you get beat.”

Louden completed 13 of 30 passes for 150 yards, but the Stars were held to 63 yards rushing. Louden was sacked four times. Dylan Nikirk finished with five catches for 69 yards, and Rhett Brinson recovered a Madison fumble. That was about the extent of the highlights.

“We looked at their offsene as being extremely athletic,” Wilson said. “Our objective was to play sound, disciplined defense, stay in front and don’t let him get out. I’d much rather have him hand the ball off and send them into the teeth of our defense, than have that quarterback get out wide. We got to him. We knew we couldn’t let him hang out in the pocket.

“This is a measuring stick for us. This late in the season, we measure ourselves to see where we are. That’s a good ballclub. Holy cow, for a team to be at the top of the Hoosier Hills Conference, that’s a good ballclub. So I’m very proud of my team.”

BNL, which also lost Gates (right knee) and Colton Staggs (hip) to injuries during the game, must now regroup to face Columbus East next week in the regular-season finale. The Stars will also learn their postseason fate when the IHSAA announces the sectional draws on Sunday.

MADISON – BNL’s Trace Rynders wraps up Madison’s Jake Dyer after a catch.

Bedford NL 0 0 0 14 – 14

Madison 14 0 7 0 – 21

First quarter

M – Colin Yancey, 17 run (Clint Hearne kick), 7:16; M – Yancey, 8 run (Hearne kick), 6:36

Third quarter

M – Yancey, 91 kickoff return (Hearne kick) 11:45

Fourth quarter

BNL – Collin Whittaker, 3 run (Ryker Hughes kick), 7:18; BNL – Hughes, 11 pass from Memphis Louden (Hughes kick), 3:53

Team statistics

BNL – First downs 11 (4 by run, 6 by pass, 1 by penalty); Rushing 25-63; Passing 13-30-1-150; Total yards 213; Fumbles 1 (lost 1); Penalties 5-40

Madison – First downs 13 (12 by run, 1 by pass): Rushing 47-228; Passing 3-7-0-38; Total yards 266; Fumbles 3 (lost 1); Penalties 11-96

Individual statistics

Rushing – (BNL) Louden 8-(-2), Gates 9-32, Nikirk 1-4, Rynders 3-14, Whittaker 4-15; (M) Jay 10-15, Yancey 13-89, Skinner 22-114, Wall 1-8, Anderson 1-2

Passing – (BNL) Louden 13-30-1-150; (M) Jay 3-6-0-38, Skinner 0-1-0-0

Receiving – (BNL) Nikirk 5-69, Hughes 2-25, Bailey 3-44, Patterson 1-3, Rynders 2-9; (M) Yancey 1-27, Dyer 1-7, Skinner 1-4

MADISON – BNL’s Dawson Axsom leaps to deflect a pass in the secondary.