A collective gasp turned into a roar on the Lafayette sideline when Bryan Station’s last desperate attempt to tie a tight game fell to the turf a few feet short of the intended receiver.
The incomplete pass, which came on fourth down with 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter, was the conclusion of a minute-and-a-half-long defensive stand that guaranteed the Generals a first-game, 14-6 win over Bryan Station in the Fayette County Kickoff Classic at Henry Clay on Friday night.
Defense reigned supreme in a game where fumbles were plentiful and both teams found the end zone to be more elusive than on-coming tacklers. But for Lafayette Coach Eric Shaw Sr., the game was more mental than defensive struggle.
“There was some confidence that they were going to make that stop,” Shaw said of his defense’s fourth quarter game-icing halt. “We’re battling ourselves right now, and we got to get better at that.”
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Shaw said his team is young, and many of the players were going into their first high school game.
“This is their first time being on this stage,” Shaw said. “You can see it.”
Both teams’ offenses were encumbered by mistakes, and aggressive defenses.
The young Lafayette team was penalized 10 times for 86 yards. The Defenders suffered 80 yards on seven penalties. Lafayette fumbled four times and lost three of them while Bryan Station fumbled twice and lost one.
“For Week 1 and finally playing against someone else there was a lot of jitters for a lot of them,” Shaw said.
Bryan Station’s costliest mistake came in the first quarter when Lafayette junior cornerback Elijah Stone intercepted a bad pass and took it all the way to the end zone for the Generals’ first score of the 2018 season.
The Defenders didn’t respond until the second quarter when senior Dondre Fish punched in a 3-yard run, but the Generals blocked the point-after attempt to keep their lead.
Three-and-outs seemed more common than first downs for most of the night.
Only Lafayette junior receiver JC Shegog passed between the pylons in the second half. Shegog caught a Drake Nelson pass just inside the red zone and out-maneuvered five Bryan Station defenders to cap a 23-yard catch and score. Shegog led the Generals in receiving with 26 yards on two receptions.
Lafayette totaled 145 yards of offense, while Bryan Station eked out 96 — a good portion of which was earned through hard runs into the heart of the Generals’ defense.
Shaw’s team played well “in spots,” but the coach cited areas for improvement in the Generals’ mental approach.
“We make sure we pay attention to how we think about the game, and how we think about each other and how we think about ourselves,” Shaw said. “If we can get those thoughts under control, everything else takes care of itself.”
Next week, Lafayette will take on an intimidating Scott County team on the road, while Bryan Station will play away at Simon Kenton.