The Henry County Wildcats are finding a familiar theme: good defense and a struggling offense equals valiant efforts in losing causes.
The Wildcats again played tough against a bigger foe but could not hold on in the second half as the offense produced just 7 points one week after being shut out by 5A Shelby County.
Sometimes Goliath wins.
This time Goliath was 5A Bullitt Central who defeated the Cats 21-7.
Bullitt Central got strong running from sophomore Trevor Carnell in the second half to control the ball and score.
Meanwhile, the Cats drove the ball on Bullitt Central several times but found success in the red zone just once.
The Cats got on the board first when quarterback Brock Fish hit Cody Tindle with a 14-yard pass in the end zone with 4:06 left in the first quarter. The PAT by Jacob Buckley was good and the Cats led 7-0.
The Cougars finally breached the Wildcat defense with 7:26 remaining on a 5-yard touchdown run by Carnell who had just picked up 40 yards on the previous play. The teams failed to score again and went into the locker rooms tied at 7.
The Wildcats threatened first to begin the 2nd half when sophomore running back Mason Fish returned the opening kickoff 67 yards to the Cougars 12-yard line.
It was a golden opportunity for the Cats to get the upper hand in a tightly contested game but it was not to be as the Cougar defense kept the Cats out of the end zone and a Buckley field goal attempt was blocked.
After a short drive by the Cougars stalled out, Henry got the ball back and began to rip off big chunks of yardage, but on a third down play Fish found Gavin Black over the middle, but Black was hit hard and fumbled on the 8-yard line as the Cats saw another scoring opportunity go by the wayside.
“Those first two drives of the second half were critical,” head coach Jason Spencer said. “We could have been up two touchdowns to open the half.”
From that point, Bullitt Central put the ball in the hands of their sophomore star and let him do the work. Carnell ran the ball 10 consecutive times and the Cats got two big penalties to help the Cougars go on a long, time-consuming drive that ended with Carnell scoring on a 1-yard run 2:02 remaining in the 3rd quarter. The extra point kick made it 14-7 for Bullitt Central.
It was more of the same in the fourth quarter as Bullitt Central tried to control the ball and the clock with its power running game featuring Carnell. Carnell ended the game having accounted for 312 of the Cougars 326 yards.
The final score came late in the game as Carnell continued to carry the load. His final big run of the night was a 28-yarder to the Wildcat 7-yard line. Bullitt Central’s Zach Patton then got the TD on the next play to seal the Wildcats’ fate.
A disappointed Spencer praised his defense’s efforts. “Defensively, we played outstanding,” he said. “Tyler Craigmyle and Ben Ingabrand did a good job on both sides of the ball. Mason Fish played good on both sides of the ball. Brandon Payton played great at nose guard. He gave their center fits all night. We forced them to abandon their spread offense and go with a power running game in the 2nd half, which was more effective for them. Give them credit. They were well coached and did what they needed to do to win the game.
“We moved the ball offensively, but we just couldn’t put it into the end zone when it counted.”
The Pioneer News contributed to this report.