Dominant offense. Opportunistic defense. Football coaches love 'em.
Domination trumped opportunity Friday night as Henry Clay celebrated Senior Night with a 28-21 victory over Bryan Station.
The Blue Devils, winners of three straight after an 0-4 start, dominated with 444 yards and 24 first downs to Station's 170 and seven.
The Defenders, losing their eighth straight to Henry Clay, used a 3-0 advantage in turnovers to keep the game tied through three quarters.
"I've got to give some credit to Cole Mielcarek," Devils Coach Sam Simpson said. "He's not blessed with a lot of size or speed or strength. But what does he do? He goes out there, and he throws that pass at the end of the game to get that big first down so that we could kill the clock."
The senior quarterback, on third-and-32, hit Branden Johnson in stride near midfield for a 50-yard gain with about three minutes left. Henry Clay picked up two more first downs to run out the clock.
"I was just trying to stay calm," said Mielcarek, who finished 19-for-32, good for 278 yards and three TDs.
Johnson pulled in scoring passes of 30 and 16 yards. Mielcarek also found Jason Rider for a 5-yard score.
Tyler Hooker got Henry Clay's first score on fourth-and-goal from the 1. He ended with 161 yards on 28 carries.
But Timothy Hayden intercepted two Mielcarek passes, and Dekovan Howard returned a fumble 23 yards. Bryan Station converted the fumble and one of the picks into touchdowns, and later took advantage of a botched punt play to score a third TD.
"We played hard and we played smart. Then, all of a sudden, we quit playing smart," said Oliver Lucas, coach of the Defenders. "We made some key mistakes in coverages. ... But hats off to them. They've been there and they knew how to get themselves to make the play that they needed to make. We're still learning how to win."
Lucas said that quarterback Brady Boling "came of age" in the loss. The sophomore completed eight of 19 passes for 98 yards and three touchdowns — 8 yards to Kalib Ball, and 15 and 8 yards to Muhammad Saifullah.
"We've got kids making plays," Lucas said. "We've just got to make some more."
Tied 14-14 at halftime, Bryan Station took a 21-14 lead midway through the third quarter. Saifullah's 8-yard grab came three plays after he laid out to make a sensational fourth-and-three catch.
Johnson's first TD, a 30-yarder with 3:03 left in the third, tied things at 21.
Bryan Station turned the ball over on downs at the Devils 30, leading to the game-winning drive. Johnson again made the scoring catch, a 16-yarder, with 9:47 left.
The Defenders had the ball for only seven more plays, and Henry Clay burned the last 7:38. Thanks to Mielcarek's third-down bomb.
"We just don't give up plays like that," Lucas said. "That's just not who we are. So they took it to the teeth of our strength, and they gutted us."
Cy Curnutte led Henry Clay tacklers with 41/2, including one for a loss. Bryan Station's Octavian Crutcher was credited with 91/2 tackles, 31/2 for losses.
Henry Clay 28, Bryan Station 21
Bryan Station 0 14 7 0 — 21
Henry Clay 8 6 7 7 — 28
HC—Tyler Hooker 1 run (kick blocked); HC—Safety, runner tackled in end zone; BS—Kalib Ball 8 pass from Brady Boling (Jose Marin kick); BS—Muhammad Saifullah 15 pass from Boling (Marin kick); HC—Jason Rider 5 pass from Cole Mielcarek (kick failed); BS—Saifullah 8 pass from Bolin (Marin kick); HC—Branden Johnson 30 pass from Mielcarek (Bruce Price kick); HC—Johnson 16 pass from Mielcarek (Price kick).
First downs 7 24
Rushes-yards 22-72 45-166
Passing yards 98 278
Total offense plays-yards 41-170 79-444
Return yards 70 58
Fumbles-lost 0-0 3-1
Penalties-yards 8-52 9-86
Punts-average 5-31.4 0-0