By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – They rode off into the sunset, like the white-hatted heroes of an old-time Western movie, departing together for their final bows. If that’s the last time Bedford North Lawrence’s senior class competes on the home turf, what a way to go.
Celebrating Senior Night with a master-class performance of total dominance, the Stars completed a perfect home half of the regular-season schedule with a memorable mauling of Madison on Friday night. By the time the seniors came off the field prior to the first possession of the third quarter, the rout was long underway and the running clock was triggered.
Recording the first shutout in the Derrick Barker coaching era, the Stars smashed Madison 50-0. Cal Gates and freshman Jaden Gilbert both scored two touchdowns, and senior quarterback Memphis Louden reached a career milestone as BNL (5-3) posted its first shutout since 2017.
Runners and scorers get most of the glory and attention, but this victory must be credited to a brutal defensive effort and a bruising advantage on both lines of scrimmage. The Cubs (1-7) did not record a first down in the first half while BNL limited them to negative-7 total yards during eight short drives in that span. On the flip side, the Stars scored six first-half touchdowns – five of them explosive plays of 18-plus yards. The holes were huge, the blowout – like an Thanos finger snap – was inevitable.
“I was really happy with the defense,” Barker said. “They have some kids that run the ball hard, so there were things we were worried about. We did a good job early on of shutting that down, and it went from there.
“Cal made some incredible runs, the offensive line did a good job. It was a great performance in the first half.”
If there was any danger of BNL overlooking the struggling Cubs – a lesson learned during last year’s Madison win – that concern quickly vanished. Gates capped the first drive with a 48-yard touchdown burst, then ripped off a 29-yard score on the next series. When Madison’s second possession ended with a high snap over the head of quarterback Matt McCarty for a BNL safety, the end was already in sight.
BNL scored on its next two drives after the gifted two points. Maddox Ray’s 23-yard dash set up Trace Rynders for a 20-yard touchdown and 22-0 lead, then the Stars struck again in only two plays. Louden found Ryker Hughes for 18 yards and Gilbert raced home from 18 to finish a 28-point first quarter.
The Stars added two more scores before halftime. Louden found Ray in the right flat, and he cut through defenders for a 45-yard catch-and-dash touchdown. The final drive, set up by Tyler Webb’s blocked punt, was punctuated by Gilbert’s 8-yard sweep for a 42-0 lead at intermission.
After Madison’s first possession of the season half, Barker sent his 10 active seniors (not counting two who were sidelined by injuries) onto the field, called timeout, then replaced them en masse. Their work here was done.
“They deserved a night like that,” Barker said. “They deserved to be honored and have that moment.”
BNL’s second unit accounted for the final touchdown as Driven Axsom capped a 52-yard drive with a 3-yard scamper.
Madison’s offense was never a factor, totaling 38 yards. BNL’s last shutout also came against the Cubs, a 49-0 win in 2017.
“We knew this would be a big game for us,” senior defensive end Brayden Baker said. “We just had to take it play by play. We knew we could get the job done. I just tried to enjoy every moment. I will cherish it a long time.”
Gates finished with 93 rushing yards on only four carries. Hughes caught three passes. Louden threw for 114 yards, and he joined elite company as he went over 5,000 total yards for his career. He was more thrilled by the 50-0 on the scoreboard and his short work night.
“That’s pretty good,” he said. “Make it a quick one and get out of here.”
BNL extended its lopsided series edge to 30-5. The stunning 21-14 road loss a year ago was plenty of motivation for this revenge victory.
“I had the feeling,” Barker said. “Last year we learned a pretty valuable lesson, that they will take with them much longer than high school sports. They were pretty focused and ready to play.”
BNL’s quest for a Hoosier Hills Conference title still requires outside help, because Floyd Central slammed Jennings County 56-14 to clinch a share of the title. The Highlanders will visit New Albany next week, the same night BNL journeys to Columbus East.
“We had high expectations this year and we didn’t meet all the goals we wanted,” Rynders said. “But we still have some we’re working toward. So a night like this was really good for us. It was a good night to be out on the field with all the guys. It was a great night to spend with the guys I’ve grown up with.”
BNL will also learn its postseason fate when the IHSAA conducts the sectional draw on Sunday.
Madison 0 0 0 0 – 0
BNL 28 14 0 8 – 50
BNL – Cal Gates, 48 run (Ryker Hughes kick), 9:45; BNL – Gates, 29 run (kick failed), 7:21; BNL – Safety, fumble in end zone, 5:40; BNL – Trace Rynders, 20 run (Rynders kick), 4:08; BNL – Jaden GIlbert, 18 run (pass failed)
BNL – Maddox Ray, 45 pass from Memphis Louden (Hughes kick), 9:00; BNL – Gilbert, 8 run (Hughes kick), 0:30
BNL – Driven Axsom, 3 run (Braydon Short pass from Dayson Kirby), 2:14
Madison – First downs 5 (4 by run, 1 by penalty); Rushing 30-36; Passing 1-7-0-2; Total yards 38; Fumbles 2 (lost 1); Penalties 1-15
BNL – First downs 9 (5 by run, 4 by pass); Rushing 24-219; Passing 8-19-0-132; Total yards 351; Fumbles 1 (lost 0); Penalties 4-37
Rushing – (M) McCarty 2-(-25), Cosby 5-28, Wall 5-(-6), Dyer 15-49, Roberts 2-(-8), Pettit 1-(-2); (BNL) Louden 4-21, Gates 4-93, Rynders 1-20, Ray 1-23, Ja. Gilbert 4-23, Bunge 3-14, Kirby 1-(-12), Horton 3-13, Je. Gilbert 2-11, Axson 1-3
Passing – (M) McCarty 1-7-0-2; (BNL) Louden 7-16-0-114, Kirby 1-3-0-18
Receiving – (M) Dyer 1-2; (BNL) Nelson 1-7, Hughes 3-42, Ray 1-45, Short 1-8, Ja. Gilbert 1-12, Short 1-18