The Bowling Green football team used a strong defensive effort to knock off previously unbeaten South Warren 41-24 and earn the postseason district crown for a second straight season Friday at South Warren High School.

Bowling Green (7-2) forced eight turnovers and blocked a punt to beat its district rival and move into next week’s region championship game.

“It’s South Warren, it’s our biggest rival and it is the playoffs,” BG coach Mark Spader said. “That alone says enough, but it is a district title and I say regions are so special. We became so spoiled around here for a while that everybody just took regions for granted. We worked for that one last year and we are to this point now. Our kids are hungry and here’s a chance to get another one.”

It was a defensive struggle when the two teams met in the regular season, with South Warren winning 10-7. Friday’s rematch featured plenty of explosive plays on both sides of the ball that led to the most points combined in a game in the series.

Both teams turned it over on their first possession, with the Purples fumbling on the goal line.

Bowling Green wouldn’t be denied the next possession, with Conner Cooper hooking up with Eli Burwash for a 48-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the drive to give the Purples the early lead.

South Warren (6-1) got on the board with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Caden Veltkamp to Avrin Bell late in the first quarter. On the next possession Eldar Dervisevic extended the drive with a 29-yard run on a fake punt, then scored on a 27-yard reception from Veltkamp to give the Spartans a 13-7 lead early in the second period.

South Warren had a chance to add to its lead after an interception gave the Spartans the ball at the BG 20, but Veltkamp was intercepted at the 10 and the Purples drove 90 yards – gaining a 14-13 advantage on Cooper’s 2-yard keeper.

Bowling Green entered the second half clinging to the lead, but South Warren’s defense forced a turnover and got the ball at the BG 8 to open the third quarter. The Spartans were unable to punch it in, settling for a field goal that made the score 16-14.

Spader said holding the Spartans to a field goal was big for his team.

“Our defense bowed their neck up,” Spader said. “We are good in the red zone, so I kind of expected that. I thought we would go out there a little pissed off and stop them.”

Bowling Green regained the momentum with about five minutes left in the third, surging in front for good with a 20-point flurry in a three-minute span.

It started on special teams, with Tucker Strode blocking a punt and recovering it in the end zone to give the Purples a 21-16 lead.

“The first punt I got pretty free and I just had that feeling I could get it that second time,” Strode said. “It turned out well. We had a good momentum shift from it and took advantage of it.”

South Warren turned it over twice in the next two minutes and Bowling Green’s offense answered both times. Burwash and Cooper hooked up again – this time on a 45-yard touchdown – one play after the first turnover. Javy Bunton added a touchdown run two plays after the second turnover, extending BG’s advantage to 34-16.

South Warren’s Christian Conyers returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to trim the deficit to 10 late in the third, but Bunton added his second touchdown run of the night in the fourth to seal it.

“You can’t survive (eight turnovers), especially against a good team,” South Warren coach Brandon Smith said. “There is no way to survive that. Most of them, they got the ball down in our territory. You talk about momentum. You are not going to overcome it. There is just no way.”

Bowling Green outgained the Spartans 358-215.

Veltkamp finished 19-for-40 passing for 163 yards.

Cooper threw for 188 yards and added 72 yards rushing.

“Things have slowed down for him in the pocket,” Spader said. “He’s looking downfield. And then when he pulls it down and runs, he is making people pay for it. He’s really improved. He’s really worked hard in practice.”

Burwash had three catches for 139 yards, while Bunton ran for 94 yards.

The Purples will now return home to host North Bullitt on Friday – in what could be the final game played at El Donaldson Stadium.

“Being my senior year, it is always good to get one more in,” Burwash said. “I never wanted to end it last week, so this is a big win.”

BGHS 7 7 20 7 – 41

SWHS 7 6 11 0 – 24

First quarter

BG – Eli Burwash 48 pass from Conner Cooper (Colin Fratus kick), 7:51

SW – Avrin Bell 23 pass from Caden Veltkamp (Eldar Dervisevic kick), 0:41

Second quarter

SW – Eldar Dervisevic 27 pass from Veltkamp (kick failed), 9:11

BG – Cooper 2 run (Fratus kick), 3:04

Third quarter

SW – Dervisevic 19 field goal, 8:51

BG – Tucker Strode recovers blocked punt in end zone (Fratus kick), 4:57

BG – Burwash 45 pass from Cooper (kick failed), 3:53

BG – Javy Bunton 3 run (Fratus kick), 2:14

SW – Christian Conyers 95 kickoff return (Veltkamp pass from Mason Willingham), 1:58

Fourth quarter

BG – Bunton 22 run (Fratus kick), 4:47{&end}

– Follow prep sports reporter Micheal Compton on Twitter @mcompton428 or visit bgdailynews.com.

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