RADCLIFF — Paul Laurence Dunbar football fans who were hoping for a winning start to the new season got whacked by a wishbone Saturday night.
Dunbar's defense couldn't stop Bullitt East's wishbone offense as last year's Class 4A state runner-up beat the Bulldogs 35-7 in the Joe Jaggers Classic at North Hardin.
Despite graduating 1,000-yard rushers Curtis Logsdon and Zach McCarthy, the Chargers ran roughshod over Dunbar. They piled up 415 yards on the ground, with Jonathan Bernard rushing 20 times for 186 yards and two touchdowns, and Matt Husband carrying 11 times for 133 yards and a TD.
"We had those big horses last year, so Jonathan and Matt had to wait, but now it's their turn," Coach Doug Preston said.
"I was pretty pleased with how we played, especially the way we handled things tackle to tackle. That's what I wanted to see."
After a 7-7 first-quarter stalemate, in which Dunbar got its only score on Thayer Burgess's short TD run, Bullitt East dominated the game.
The Chargers rang up three TDs in the second quarter to take control. Bernard blew right up the middle on a 72-yard TD run that got things rolling.
Quarterback Matt Bowles, one of their few returning skill position starters, had a 3-yard TD, and Bernard added a short scoring run to make it 28-7 at halftime.
Bullitt East kept grinding in the second half and added another score on an 11-play drive that was all rushing.
"I expected us to make more mistakes," Preston said, "because we looked sloppy in practice. But even though we played good, there's a whole lot of room for improvement."
Dunbar Coach Jason Howell can say the same thing after his Bulldogs dropped their seventh game in a row dating back to last year's 1-10 record.
"The first quarter was the most encouraging thing I saw," Howell said.
"And overall, I thought our offensive line did a pretty good job, considering they're a group that had not been tested under fire."
Dunbar wasn't at full strength for its season opener. A few players were sidelined with the flu, including Kendall Davis, the Bulldogs' leading receiver last year.
Tailback John Rose banged up his knee late in the first half after rushing for 58 yards. And tailback Brad Harp suffered a concussion early in the second half and missed the rest of the game.
Quarterback Trent Martin completed five of 14 passes for 63 yards, all to different receivers.
Howell credited Bullitt East with "being more physical than us up front.
"And after they seized the momentum, they did not let up, they did not give an inch.
"It's growing pains for us. Our guys have to learn to step up. We didn't do that tonight."
Bullitt East 35, Paul Dunbar 7
Paul Dunbar 7 0 0 0—7
Bullitt East 7 21 7 0—35
BE—Matt Husband 23 run (Caleb Noe kick). PD—Thayer Burgess 4 run (Matt Puracchio kick). BE—Jonathan Bernard 72 run (Noe kick). BE—Matt Bowles 3 run (Noe kick). BE—Bernard 2 run (Noe kick). BE—Brandon Hanna 1 run (Noe kick).
Records—Dunbar 0-1, Bullitt East 1-0.