Logan Butler was the defensive difference-maker as St. Xavier beat Bryan Station 28-13 in the Republic Bank Bluegrass Bowl at Lexington Catholic Friday night.
Butler, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound linebacker, had three interceptions, and returned one of them for a touchdown. He also led St. X with seven tackles, including a sack.
"He's a special player," Tigers Coach Will Wolford said. "We're lucky to have him, and we're lucky he's only a junior."
On offense, St. X had its power game in gear. Taijon Smith and John Hernandez gobbled up most of the team's 291 rushing yards.
Smith, a 5-9, 170-pound senior, carried 32 times for 178 yards. Hernandez, a 5-10, 185-pound junior, carried 10 times for 82 yards, including a 44-yard run that ended with him dragging two tacklers into the end zone.
While St. X flexed its muscle, Bryan Station flashed its speed. The Defenders moved the ball pretty consistently with its short passing game.
Andre Davis and Dallas Bruton split time at quarterback and combined to throw for 254 yards. Davis completed 18 of 26 passes for 147 yards and a TD. He was picked off three times. Bruton came on midway through the third quarter and was 16 of 22 for 107 yards. He was intercepted once.
Bryan Station's receiving corps was led by C.J. Walker (nine catches, 71 yards), Marcus Floyd (six catches, 76 yards), D'Andre Mack (seven catches, 48 yards) and Tequan Claitt (six catches, 21 yards).
The Defenders had five turnovers, however.
Wolford said Bryan Station was tough to defend.
"They're a very talented football team, talent at every position," he said. "It was a battle out there."
Bryan Station stunned St. X early. Mahari Sturgis intercepted Noah Houk's first pass of the night, and the Defenders cashed in.
Davis completed five passes in a row, the last one a TD toss to Mack.
"After Bryan Station scored that first touchdown, I never doubted our team," Butler said. "I knew we'd come back angry and ready to hit."
St. X tied it 7-7 late in the first quarter on Houk's quarterback sneak. On Bryan Station's next snap, Butler got his first interception and returned it 28 yards for a TD.
St. X stretched its lead to 21-7 on Hernandez's bullish scoring run midway through the second quarter.
Bryan Station's defense, led by K-Ci Carmichael, Devon Key and Sturgis, gave the Defenders a chance.
"They kept us in the game," Coach Frank Parks said, "by making stop after stop in the second half."
Bryan Station blocked a St. X field goal, then Ke-I Carmichael picked it out of the air and returned it 83 yards for a TD to make it 21-13 midway through the third quarter.
The Defenders, who forced four turnovers, had a chance to possibly tie it when they drove inside the Tigers' 5-yard line. But a fourth-down pass fell incomplete in the end zone.
Bryan Station's next possession fizzled when it failed on a fourth-and-3 at the St. X 35. On the Tigers' next play, Houk hit Michael Ackerman with a 65-yard TD pass.