BARDSTOWN — While the rain fell Friday night at Garnis Martin Field in the Bourbon City, the Central Yellowjackets’ reign came close to falling.
Thanks to a bounceback performance from Corey Johnson and some clutch catches from Davon Hall, the Yellowjackets stayed unbeaten in district play since 2007 with a 21-19 road win over the previously unbeaten Bardstown Tigers.
Johnson, who had missed the last two games since injuring his right ankle in the second half against Class 3-A, District 3 rival Waggener, returned by rushing for two scores.
“Coming off that injury and with it being a big game for the district championship, I knew I had to make it happen,” said Johnson, who had 144 yards on 23 carries.
Hall’s numbers weren’t near as gaudy — he had five catches for 67 yards — but he had catches of 24 and 13 yards on third-and-long on the final drive to allow the Yellowjackets (4-4, 4-0 district) to run out the clock against the Tigers (7-1, 3-1).
“I just knew if we could catch the ball and extend the drive, we could run the time out,” said Hall, whose team held the ball the final 5:51 while earning three first downs and forcing the Tigers to take their final two timeouts. “That’s all we needed — to run the time out. We didn’t need to score. We were already up.”
The Yellowjackets found themselves needing to score just seconds into the game thanks to Bardstown’s Deondre Boggs. Faking a handoff to the equally dangerous Tariq Armour (game-high 185 rushing yards and one touchdown on 16 carries), Boggs took the opening kickoff down the home sideline for a 98-yard touchdown just 12 seconds in.
“We knew they were going to score, but we didn’t know they were going to score that fast,” said Central coach Ty Scroggins, whose team has won its last four games. “We practiced on the fake reverse all week and it just kind of got to us. He (Boggs) is a little faster than what we thought. He outran all of us and we had all of our starters out there. All of our speed is on the kickoff team. So he kind of surprised us a little bit.”
Central answered nearly 10 minutes later on Johnson’s first touchdown run. The eight-play, 54-yard drive featured a 15-yard catch by Hall on fourth-and-10.
“They scored on us, what, 10 seconds into the game? And I told them, ‘Look, the whole game is still to play,'” Scroggins said. “We knew that if we did the things that we were supposed to do, we’ll be all right.”
Armour’s 19-yard touchdown run with 5:58 left in the second quarter allowed the Tigers to regain the lead, but Central quarterback James Simpson found Ukrari Baker for a 52-yard bomb down the Tigers’ sideline and Sebastian Francisco drilled the extra point to give Central the lead for good at 14-13 with 1:16 left in the first half.
While Bardstown’s strength of schedule doesn’t come close to matching Central’s challenging slate, Scroggins said the Tigers were certainly worthy of their record and ranking.
“That team is pretty good and I hope they can go to Boyle County or Lexington Catholic and do a good job,” Scroggins said.
Like his coach, Johnson said the Tigers “most definitely” earned Central’s respect and the Tigers could hang around in the postseason.
“I actually think we might see them again in the playoffs,” Johnson said. “I know it would be a good game just like tonight was.”
CENTRAL 7 7 7 0–21
BARDSTOWN 7 6 6 0–19
B — Deondre Boggs 98 kickoff return (Devin Boggs kick), 11:48
C — Corey Johnson 14 run (Sebastian Francisco kick, 1:49
B — Tariq Armour 19 run (kick blocked), 5:58
C — Ukrari Baker 52 pass from James Simpson (Francisco kick), 1:16
C — Johnson 6 run (Francisco kick), 4:20
B — TraJan Walls 16 pass from Santrel Farmer (pass failed), 1:00
Total yards 295 202
Rushes-yards 43-159 28-159
Comp-Att-Int 10-16-1 5-9-0
Passing yards 136 43
Fumbles-lost 0-0 4-1
Punts-avg 5-42.2 5-41.0
Penalties-yards 10-99 8-53
First downs 16 7