The Bowling Green football team got off to a slow start offensively Friday at El Donaldson Stadium against McCracken County, after scoring just seven points in a loss to district rival South Warren the week before.
But after halftime, the Purples started rolling.
Javeius Bunton scored four touchdowns in the final two quarters and the Purples’ defense held a high-powered Mustangs’ offense in check to come away with a 28-12 victory.
”Basically, just pulling out of them – not the effort, I can never question the effort – but just the belief in themselves and let’s start executing,” Bowling Green coach Mark Spader said. “There were some harsh words, but very motivating, and our kids got a little ticked off and came out and you can see it on the field.
“I hate that it has to come to that because I think we have an explosive offense when we play at a high level. Hopefully that’s a step in the right direction there.”
The Purples (3-1) were held scoreless, trailing 6-0 at halftime, but got the ball back to start the second half. And the Bowling Green offense took on a new life from there.
After starting the drive with a false start, Bowling Green went 71 yards down the field and scored on a 9-yard run from Bunton. The drive got moving early with an 18-yard keeper from quarterback Conner Cooper, who then found tight end Jordan Dingle for back-to-back receptions. Bunton had two runs of 13 yards later in the drive, and Cooper converted a 6-yard third-down pass to Tyler Strode midway through to keep it alive.
“(Bunton) had big holes and they took that speech to heart and Javy put us on his back there and Conner did some good things with his legs as well as the RPO stuff. It was fun to watch,” Spader said. “I keep telling them, ‘When we play well, we’re fun to watch,’ and they’re fun to be around.”
Bowling Green’s defense forced a three-and-out on McCracken County’s (4-1) ensuing possession, before the offense took over and drove 73 yards for another score – this one ending on a 2-yard run from Bunton – to take a 14-6 lead with 2:21 left in the period.
The senior running back finished with 187 yards and four touchdowns on 27 carries, adding two receptions for 13 yards.
“Man, we’ve got to come out with intensity. Lately we haven’t been coming out with that intensity,” Bunton said. “It was 0-6 – c’mon, we’re Bowling Green. We’ll battle, we’ll fight and that’s where it got us.”
Meanwhile, the Purples defense had been holding off a McCracken County offense that averaged 50 points per game in a 4-0 start.
The Mustangs’ offense started in Bowling Green territory after receiving the game’s opening kick, and advanced to the Purples’ 1 before being stood up. Its next drive, starting at Bowling Green’s 28, resulted in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Pryor Lamb to Nick Masek for a 6-0 advantage.
“We said, ‘We’ve got to make sure they don’t score the rest of the game,’ “ senior linebacker Rece Jones said. “We knew the offense was going to get it going, we knew they were going to start scoring and they did, and it helped us a lot.”
From there, the Purples forced five straight three-and-outs, and with a 14-6 lead, got the ball back on an interception from Ross Millet. Three plays later, Cooper hit Strode with a 41-yard pass to set up an 8-yard scoring run from Bunton on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Bunton added a 3-yard touchdown run to make it 28-6 with 6:00 remaining.
“In the first part of the game, I wasn’t really being patient with my holes, and then my running backs coach came to me and said to get patient, so that’s what I did and holes started opening,” Bunton said.
Cooper finished with 120 yards on 13-of-20 passing for Bowling Green, with Strode accounting for four receptions and 61 yards and Dingle with five receptions for 32 yards.
The Purples are scheduled to travel to Christian County for a Class 5A, District 2 game next week.
Lamb finished with 131 yards and two touchdowns on 15-of-28 passing and the Purples limited Hunter Bradley, who entered as Class 6A’s leading rusher with 717 yards and 10 touchdowns in four games, to 50 yards on 17 carries.
“We just knew we had to stop No. 16 (Bradley),” Jones said.
“He’s the key to their offense. Whenever you stop him, you stop their offense.”
The Mustangs are next scheduled to play at home against Henderson County on Oct. 23.
MCHS 6 0 0 6 – 12
BGHS 0 0 14 14 – 28
MC – Nick Masek 11 pass from Pryor Lamb (Kick missed), 2:34
BG – Javeius Bunton 9 run (Colin Fratus kick), 7:12
BG – Bunton 2 run (Fratus kick), 2:21
BG – Bunton 8 run (Fratus kick), 11:54
BG – Bunton 3 run (Fratus kick), 6:00
MC – Carter Roland 3 pass from Lamb (two-point conversion failed), 3:08
– Follow sports reporter Jared MacDonald on Twitter @JMacDonaldSport or visit bgdailynews.com.