Paul Laurence Dunbar's old-style triple-option outdid Bryan Station's new-style passing attack 34-28 in a Class 6A district football showdown Thursday night.
Dunbar, led by fullback Cam Pergram and halfback A.J. Williams, piled up 478 yards on the ground and gave first-year coach Paul Rains his 200th career victory.
Pergram, a 200-pound bulldozer, carried 21 times for 229 yards and three touchdowns. Williams, a 160-pound speedster, ran 10 times for 166 yards and two TDs, including a 39-yard scamper in the closing minutes that proved to be the difference.
"Powerhouse football," Pergram said. "We take control of the clock and the game and wear down the defense."
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Senior quarterback Emory Thompson orchestrated it all and was marvelous with his sleight-of-hand(offs).
"It's deception. That's how it's done," Pergram said. "You don't know where the ball's going, then all of a sudden — boom! — it's in the end zone. It could be Emory. It could be A.J. It could be me. It's a wonderful offense."
The Bulldogs offensive line — Blake Gilbert, Nick Edge, Jauhquan Harris, Chase Siegel and Joe Samaan — dominated up front.
"We had a bye week last week and we've been working hard to get better," Gilbert said. "We're finally playing to our full capability now."
Back in August, Rains predicted that the Bulldogs would improve more than any team in town once they learned his system.
He was right.
Dunbar is 5-2 — its most wins in a season since 2005 — and you could say the Bulldogs are two plays away from being undefeated. They lost to Tates Creek 22-21 in their opener, and fell to Madison Southern 21-19 when they missed a field goal in the closing seconds.
"It's all heart and effort," Rains said. "I give all the credit to these players, especially the seniors who've bought into what we're doing."
Dunbar was unstoppable in the first half as it rushed for almost 350 yards and built a 28-7 lead. But Bryan Station came back strong behind the passing of Ora "Bo" Johnson.
Johnson threw a pair of TD passes and ran for another score to rally the Defenders into a 28-28 tie midway through the fourth quarter.
But Dunbar answered with an 80-yard, 10-play drive. The Bulldogs scored on Williams' 39-yard run that came on a double hand-off — Thompson to Brandyn Duncan to Williams — with 1:46 left.
That was plenty of time for Bryan Station's air-raid offense to strike. Johnson drove his team to the Dunbar 20 with less than a minute left.
Johnson was forced to throw away a pass on first down. Thompson broke up a pass on second down. Derante Sanders, who led the Bulldogs with 12 tackles, took down Johnson after a three-yard gain on third down. Marcellus Means broke up Johnson's fourth-down pass attempt with 17 seconds left to seal the victory.
Johnson finished with 292 yards passing. Marcus Floyd had 12 catches for 170 yards.
"Hat's off to Dunbar," Bryan Station Coach Frank Parks said. "They did a good job keeping everything in front of them there at the end and made the big plays."
Rains, in his 24th year as a head coach, said trying to stop Bryan Station is a challenge. "It's like playing against Division I receivers, and their quarterback is all over the place. That's what makes this win even sweeter — to play a team that's good and come out with a win."
PAUL DUNBAR 34, BRYAN STATION 28
P aul Dunbar 14 14 0 6—34
Bryan Station 7 0 13 8—28
PD--Cam Pergram 15 run (Levi Clark). PD—A.J. Williams 63 run (Clark kick). BS—K-CI Carmichael 3 run (Anthony Lopez kick). PD—Pergram 15 run (Clark kick). PD—Pergram 25 run (Clark run). BS—Marcus Floyd 14 pass from Ora Johnson (Lopez kick). BS--LaVelle Cloyd 5 pass from Johnson (kick blocked). BS—Johnson 1 run (Devin Key pass from Johnson). PD—Williams 38 run (run failed).
Records—Dunbar 5-2; Bryan Station 3-3.