Paul Laurence Dunbar kicked off the high school football season on Friday with a comeback victory over visiting North Laurel, erasing a 14-0 halftime deficit and going on to knock off the Jaguars, 35-26, behind a stellar game from junior quarterback Jake Smith.
Early in the third quarter Smith threw a pair of long touchdowns, a 41-yarder to Frank Ilunga and a 67-yard strike to Jamarcus Robinson, to tie the game. The Bulldogs pulled ahead for good, 21-14, late in the period on a 7-yard touchdown run by Mitchell Joseph. Smith threw another TD bomb to Robinson early in the fourth quarter, a 61-yarder that put Dunbar ahead 28-20. The Bulldogs sealed the win on a 33-yard TD pass from Smith to Howard Jackson on fourth-and-10 with just over two minutes left in the game.
“Howard did not play one offensive snap that game (previously). He’s our starting middle linebacker,” Dunbar Coach Wes Johnson said. “But he’s so athletic and tall and big. He’s 6-2, 6-3. I knew if we could just get him one-on-one that he’ll make a play.”
The Bulldogs got that one-on-one matchup they were looking for, and Howard took advantage.
“I told him right before he went in, ‘I’m going to put you in. I’m throwing the fade to you.’ I said, ‘This is your play,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir,’“ Johnson said. “I think sometimes you have a gut feeling about something. And even though he didn’t play offense the whole game, I felt like he was just perfect for that play. It was a four vertical route and he had a great catch. He stepped up and made a play.”
Smith completed 12 of 20 passes for four touchdowns. Robinson finished with 131 yards on three catches.
North Laurel’s Jacob Bowman ran for 120 yards and a TD on 22 carries. The Jaguars rushed for 273 yards as a team, with Grant Woods adding 96 yards and a score.
Dunbar’s John Law was disruptive on defense, forcing a pair of fumbles and making three sacks to go along with 10 tackles.
Scott County 72, Great Crossing 7: The Cardinals made it clear that they’re still top avian in Georgetown as they hammered Great Crossing in the inaugural “Battle of the Birds” at Birds Nest Stadium, the facility both teams will share as their home. Scott County rumbled for 470 rushing yards, led by Philip Garner’s 220 yards and four touchdowns on just seven carries. Bronson Brown also topped the century mark, gaining 128 yards and scoring a TD on four carries.
Scott County had 20 first downs to Great Crossing’s five and outgained the Warhawks in total offense, 541-91. The first touchdown in Great Crossing history came early in the second quarter, when Bryce Hearn caught a 74-yard score from Caleb Perry.
Lexington Christian 36, Moore 14: Xavier Brown broke away for touchdown runs of 33 and 43 yards for the Eagles. LCA quarterback Jayden Barnhardt passed for 127 yards and a TD and ran for 59 yards and two more scores. Barnhardt found Will Vernon for a 57-yard touchdown that put LCA up 22-8 just before half. A Barnhardt TD on LCA’s first drive of the third quarter essentially sealed the win. Brown finished with 129 yards.
Johnson Central 49, Lafayette 12: The visiting Golden Eagles scored 26 unanswered points and went on to rout the Generals at Ishmael Stadium. Five different players scored rushing touchdowns for Johnson Central, including Bryce Tackett, who found the end zone twice from inside the 5-yard line. Lafayette’s Noah Curtsinger caught five passes for 145 yards and a touchdown.
Frederick Douglass 43, Bryan Station 0: Dane Key was an all-purpose threat, reeling in three catches for 69 yards and a TD and returning a punt 60 yards for another score as the Broncos blanked the visiting Defenders. Douglass quarterback Josh McClurg had 96 yards passing and two TDs and added 87 yards on the ground. Bryson Fields had 8.5 tackles, including one for loss, for Bryan Station. The Broncos outgained the Defenders 327 yards to 97.
Simon Kenton 38, Henry Clay 27: Erik Brown rushed for 190 yards and a TD and also threw a 30-yard touchdown to lead the Pioneers past the Blue Devils at Lafayette’s Ishmael Stadium. Chase Crone added 72 yards and two more touchdowns for Simon Kenton. Henry Clay pulled within 17-13 on an 8-yard touchdown pass from DJ VanHorn to Ashton Foos late in the first half, but the Pioneers responded with three unanswered TDs spanning the third and fourth quarters to pull away.
VanHorn completed 15 of 23 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw four interceptions. He added 123 yards and another TD on the ground.
Paris 22, Fort Knox 6: Senior two-way threat Jamaun Clark was named MVP of the Paris Hall of Fame Game for the second year in a row, catching four passes for 111 yards and a TD and making nine tackles to lead the host Greyhounds to victory. Chase Puckett threw two touchdowns in the win.
Russell 49, Mason County 13: Nathan Conley ran for a pair of short touchdowns and Ethan Oborne ran for a score and caught a 69-yard TD as the visiting Red Devils rolled over the Royals.
Covington Catholic 37, Ryle 0: Notre Dame commit Michael Mayer hauled in a 79-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter in the Colonels’ rout. Mayer tacked on another 30-yard TD catch from quarterback Caleb Jacob. Jacob went 12-for-23 for 207 yards and three touchdowns.
Apollo 66, Warren Central 56: The highest scoring game of the night brought a few electrifying performances and a massive rally as Apollo scored 24 points in the fourth quarter to keep Warren Central’s losing streak alive at 36 games. According to the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, it came despite a massive effort by Warren Central’s D’Andre Boyd, who threw for 467 yards and five touchdowns and ran for 167 yards and three more scores. Apollo’s Harold Hogg ran for 192 yards and three TDs, and converted three two-point conversions. Apollo QB Damian Lovinsky had five touchdowns, including a 47-yard run that put the Eagles ahead for good in the fourth quarter.
Jared Peck contributed to this report: @HLpreps, firstname.lastname@example.org