RICHMOND — Bryan Station quarterback Ora "Bo" Johnson had a fabulous time playing pitch and catch with his receivers in the Roy Kidd Bowl at Madison Central on Saturday.
Johnson completed 11 of 16 passes for 373 yards and six touchdowns as the Defenders roared from behind to beat Murray 47-26.
C.J. Walker and Tequan Claitt each snagged a pair of TD tosses. LaVelle Cloyd and K-CI Carmichael caught one apiece.
"We had a great second half. A lot of fun," Johnson said. "We asked our defense to get a few stops and if they did, we knew we'd score. Our receivers have a lot of speed, and when they get open they've got great hands."
Bryan Station ran only nine plays for 66 yards in the first half and trailed Class 2A Murray 13-6. The Tigers' running game chewed up the yards and the clock.
But the 6A Defenders' air-it-out attack couldn't be stopped after Coach Frank Parks told his team at halftime to "just relax and go out and play your game."
Johnson, in his third year at QB, did just that. The lanky senior was 7-for-9 passing for 312 yards and five TDs in the second half as Bryan Station outscored Murray 41-13.
Most of the Defenders' scores came from long distance, including 80- and 75-yard bombs to Walker, and a 78-yarder to Carmichael, who also had a 46-yard TD run.
"That was a lot of fun," Walker said. "It surprised me how open we got, and Ora, oh my gosh, he put it right in our pocket."
Carmichael had a ball, too.
"All our guys got into it," he said. "Bo, he's a great quarterback. He was putting it on the money for everybody."
Johnson's productive season opener pushed his career passing numbers to 4,538 yards and 47 TDs.
Bryan Station's defense, led by Jamar Brooks, Glenn Spencer and Dallas Bruton, did a better job slowing Murray's ground game in the second half.
Tigers Coach Steve Duncan said he took the blame for his team's defensive meltdown in the second half.
"They whipped our tails on the line, in the passing game, in the kicking game, and they whipped us defensively. You name it, they whipped us at it."
Murray was led by senior quarterback Dylan Boone. He rushed for 170 yards and two TDs. The Tigers didn't attempt a pass until the closing minutes, and Boone completed three of four for 82 yards.
Bryan Station's schedule gets ridiculously difficult in the coming weeks. The Defenders play two-time defending 5A champ Bowling Green in the Bluegrass Bowl at Lexington Catholic next Saturday, then travel to six-time defending state champ Highlands in two weeks. They return home to host Lexington Catholic after that.
Bryan Station 47, Murray 26
Murray 6 7 13 0—26
Bryan Station 0 6 14 27—47
M—Ryan Humphrey 8 run (kick failed). M—Dylan Boone 33 run (Putz kick). BS—Tequan Claitt 38 pass from Ora Johnson (run failed). M—Jonothan Curd 2 run (kick failed). BS—C.J. Walker 80 pass from Johnson (run failed). M—Boone 70 run (Putz kick). BS—K-Ci Carmichael 78 pass from Johnson (JJuan Sleet kick). BS—Carmichael 46 run (Sleet kick). BS—Walker 75 pass from Johnson (Sleet kick). BS—Claitt 41 pass from Johnson (Sleet kick). BS—LaVelle Cloyd 13 pass from Johnson (Sleet kick).
Records: Murray 0-1; Bryan Station 1-0.