The Bowling Green Purples might not be as dominant as they were last season, but they were strong enough to win their second consecutive Class 5-A state championship Saturday as they rolled to a 34-20 win over the Cooper Jaguars.
Bowling Green head coach Kevin Wallace said the Purples aren’t as talented as last year’s team on paper but were able to complete another undefeated season with another key factor — heart.
“This team’s not near as big or athletic — it’s a bunch of great kids,” Wallace said after the game. “They’re fun to coach. We might not have played our best tonight, but we played well enough to win, we hung in there and we can take the big trophy home.”
The Purples were able to do the majority of their damage on the ground. Led by running back Blue Tisdale, who had 140 rushing yards and three touchdowns, Bowling Green ran up 223 total rushing yards on the Jaguars.
Tisdale said he was able to take advantage of the defense after he saw the Jaguars playing deep in the backfield to prevent any big passing plays.
“They backed up — you’ve got to take advantage, and that’s what we did,” Tisdale said.
The Purples had some obvious support from the crowd. While both teams brought out thousands of supporters, Bowling Green had the advantage of playing in its own city — the game was played at L.T. Smith Stadium, on the campus of Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.
The Jaguars were able to hang with the Purples but couldn’t get over the hump — they never led and were harassed by the Bowling Green defensive line, which recorded three sacks and five tackles for loss.
Cooper quarterback Tyler Morris got off to a rough start — he threw the lone interception of the night on his second passing attempt — but was a bright spot for the Jaguars for much of the game. He threw for 105 yards and a touchdown while running in two more scores.
That pick, coupled with a lost fumble on their first drive, forced the Jaguars to fight an uphill battle for the rest of the evening.
Cooper coach Randy Borchers said those turnovers could have been overcome if a few more plays would have gone his team’s way.
“We still had our chances; we just couldn’t get a stop when we needed to and we couldn’t close the deal,” Borchers said.
The win is Bowling Green’s 31st in a row and second straight 5-A title.