Maybe Carl Hayden could be a motivational speaker in his spare time.
Hayden, the Lafayette football coach, had a succinct message for his Generals before Friday's matchup for first place in their Class 6A district.
"The biggest thing I tried to express to them today was playing inspired football," Hayden said after his Generals shut out visiting Madison Central 21-0. "And they did just that. They were hungry for it tonight."
Lafayette (6-3) improved to 2-0 in the district with one game to play. The Generals extended their winning streak to five games.
Central (5-3) dropped to 1-1 in district play. The Indians must beat Clark County and hope that Tates Creek upsets Lafayette in order to have a chance at home-field advantage in the playoffs.
"We got outplayed, outcoached — that's the bottom line," Indians Coach Bert Browne said. "Offensively, we were terrible."
Lafayette, held to 107 yards in a scoreless first half, finished with a 406-252 advantage in yards.
Central lost two fumbles, had two interceptions, missed a field goal and twice turned the ball over on downs.
The Generals scored on Kylan Nelson's 20-yard run in the third quarter, plus fourth-quarter passes of 6 and 14 yards from Garrett Peavler to Josh Dunn.
Nelson finished with 116 yards on 20 carries. Peavler completed 16 of 28 passes for 250 yards.
Lafayette overcame 13 penalties for 101 yards. Included was a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct call to open the second half when the Lafayette band went long past its allotted time.
Meanwhile, the football Generals adjusted during intermission.
"We just told them to play football," Hayden said. "They have to realize, just as in life, football will throw things at you; things won't go your way. But you can't stop. You've gotta have faith and keep on going. And they pulled together and pulled it out tonight."
The Generals took the second-half kickoff and drove 80 yards in eight plays.
Nelson, who stopped Central's first possession of the game with an interception, got the score on a quick hitter up the middle.
"Defense kept us in the game the whole time," Nelson said. "I'm really proud of our D."
The score stayed 7-0 until Peavler and Dunn hooked up for a 6-yard score with 8:01 left.
Central then drove inside the Lafayette 20 before a catch-and-fumble, recovered by the Generals' Drew Horseman, denied the Indians again.
Lafayette kept the ball until Dunn scored his second TD with 39.8 seconds left.
"They have great players on offense. Our coach put us in the correct position to make plays. We just have to make them," said middle linebacker Justin Carr, who led Lafayette with 12 tackles. "Dominique Hawkins and their quarterback (Hunter Stocker), they're both great players. We just had to fill the holes and when we saw the openings we had to attack and just wrap up and gang tackle, because they're very elusive and they can break tackles and break runs like they did sometimes tonight. We've just got to hold down the big plays."
Madison Central 0 0 0 0—0
Lafayette 0 0 7 14—21
L—Kylan Nelson 20 run (Nathan Gillespie kick); L—Josh Dunn 6 pass from Garrett Peavler (Gillespie kick); L—Dunn 14 pass from Peavler (Gillespie kick).
Records: MC: 5-3 L: 6-3.