LEXINGTON — Bowling Green never quite found a rhythm before halftime Friday night in Lexington, but a handful of big plays carried the Purples to smooth sailing in the second half.
Despite being stymied at times by penalties and turnovers early against Lafayette, Bowling Green (2-0) survived with help from its playmakers and rolled to a 42-20 win over the Generals in the Fayette County iHigh Football Frenzy at Bryan Station High School.
“This is a game I think should’ve gotten out of hand a lot earlier,” BG coach Kevin Wallace said. “Turnovers cost us early, but we probably played as well as we could possibly play in the third quarter. I told the guys at half that we haven’t had a close game in a long time, and it was a good thing for us to see how we’d react. Hopefully it’s a good sign.”
Juniors Blue Tisdale and Nacarius Fant were the stars of the first half, but most of the BG offense shined in a crisp final two quarters.
The Purples outscored Lafayette 21-6 in the second half, racking up 171 yards of offense to bring their game total to 341.
Fant finished the game with 108 receiving yards and was named the most valuable player, while Tisdale rushed for 86 yards and two scores – all in the first half.
“We came out a little flat early, but in the second half, we came out and hit spots,” Fant said.
The Purples punted on their first drive, and junior quarterback Devin Hayes threw an interception on the second play of their next possession.
But on the third drive, Hayes lofted a ball down the left sideline to Fant, who caught it in stride, sidestepped one defender and raced 44 yards to the end zone.
Tisdale scored on a 35-yard touchdown run on the Purples’ next play with 1:43 to go in the first quarter.
Then Bowling Green’s offense bogged down again in costly fashion.
Hayes tossed his second interception on a tipped ball, and Lafayette took advantage with a five-play scoring drive capped with a 6-yard run by quarterback Garrett Peavler at the 4:45 mark of the second quarter.
The Generals tied the game at 14 with 38 seconds left in the first half on a 23-yard pass from Peavler to receiver Tranard Chester.
“We weren’t really grooving,” Hayes said. “We didn’t come out ready sometimes, but it was all different once we got it going.”
Once again, Tisdale and Fant came to the rescue.
Tisdale put Bowling Green in good position on the ensuing kickoff with a return to the Lafayette 37-yard-line, and a 18-yard pass from Hayes to Fant set the Purples up at the 1 with three seconds left.
After a face mask penalty against Lafayette, Tisdale punched the ball in with no time on the clock to swing things back Bowling Green’s way at halftime, 21-14.
The Purples outgained Lafayette 168-137 in the first half. Tisdale and Fant accounted for 154 of those yards.
Bowling Green marched 65 yards on its opening drive of the third quarter, including two rushes for 19 yards by Fant and a 27-yard strike from Hayes to Fant.
Junior running back Blake Pillow finished the drive at the 7:39 mark with an 8-yard, off-tackle run up the middle, and the Purples took control for good by recovering a Lafayette fumble with the Generals facing fourth-and-inches.
It took two plays and a personal foul on Lafayette for Hayes to hook up with senior receiver Spencer Renfro for an 8-yard TD and put Bowling Green up 35-14 with 5:34 left in the third.
Hayes and Renfro capped things about seven minutes later with a 36-yard touchdown connection when Renfro bounced off a defender and streaked down the left sideline.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen some bad things happen to us, but that’s what happened early tonight,” Wallace said. “I’m really proud of the way we responded.”
Hayes finished the game 13 of 22 passing for 202 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, but he was 8 of 8 for 111 yards and two scores in the second half.
Lafayette scored its final touchdown with 44 seconds left on a 15-yard pass from Peavler to receiver Josh Dunn.
Things don’t get any easier next week for Bowling Green, as the Purples host Class 6A power St. Xavier at 7 p.m. Friday.
LHS — 0 14 0 6 – 20
BGHS — 14 7 14 7 – 42
BG – Nacarius Fant 44 pass from Devin Hayes (Dane Drobocky kick), 4:05
BG – Blue Tisdale 35 run (Drobocky kick), 1:43
LHS – Garrett Peavler 6 run (Nathan Gillespie kick), 4:45
LHS – Tranard Chester 23 pass from Peavler (Gillespie kick), 0:38
BG – Tisdale 1 run (Drobocky kick), 0:00
BG – Blake Pillow 8 run (Drobocky kick), 7:39
BG – Spencer Renfro 8 pass from Hayes (Drobocky kick), 5:34
BG – Renfro 36 pass from Hayes (Hunter Hanks kick), 10:45
LHS – Josh Dunn 15 pass from Peavler (pass failed), 0:44