Lafayette warmed up to the challenge of winning its first playoff game in seven years by beating North Hardin 24-6 Friday night.
The Generals, finally savoring a post-season victory after seven consecutive November losses, didn't mind the bracing cold and snow flurries at new Ishmael Stadium.
"The cold's nothing to us, we just fight through it," said junior Bubba Johnson, who rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns, and was part of Lafayette's swarming defense.
Andy Hampton, who led the "D" with 10 solo tackles, said the Generals deserved to celebrate.
"It means everything after all Lafayette's been through — 16 straight games without a home field, and not winning a playoff game in seven years.
"This means a lot and we're going to keep it going."
Lafayette will visit Meade County in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs next week.
Lafayette first-year coach Carl Hayden said he didn't notice the cold until he got doused with Gatorade at the final horn. He was shivering but happy after watching his team outplay North Hardin in every phase of the game.
"We prepared really hard this week for a tough team, and the boys rose to the occasion," he said.
While it took awhile for Lafayette's offense to get revved up in the frigid conditions, the Generals' defense put the heat on North Hardin from the first snap.
The Trojans never did get their quick-hit passing attack in sync. Vincent Davis completed only eight of 30 passes for 93 yards, and 44 of those yards came on one play.
"We stopped their screens, and it was all over after that," Hampton said. "We practiced hard and were real prepared."
Davis did run for 138 yards and a score, but that added up to negligible damage as North Hardin lost its sixth straight playoff game.
David Kenner, Justin Carr and Shamon Brown also shone defensively for the Generals.
Lafayette sputtered early but finally got going in the second quarter. The Generals got on the board with a 48-yard drive that included a key third-down 12-yard pass from Matthew Britt to Nick Jeter.
Johnson got the touchdown on a 2-yard run late in the second quarter.
North Hardin wasted a chance to tie it in the closing seconds of the half. A 44-yard pass from Davis to Avery Price gave the Trojans the ball inside the 10. Four plays later, however, they were at the 3 with only eight seconds left. Davis, forced to scramble, was tackled at the 1 by Hampton as time expired.
Lafayette made it 10-0 on Matt Green's 44-yard field goal midway through the third period.
North Hardin's only TD came on a quarterback sneak by Davis that closed the gap to 10-6, but not for long.
On Lafayette's next play from scrimmage, Johnson ripped off a 44-yard TD run to make it 17-6.
Johnson said he did it for his brother, Marlon, who sat out the second half with a knee injury. "He was in my heart," Bubba said.
Britt iced the game with a 39-yard TD strike to Tanner Napier with 4:44 left.
Britt finished the night 8-for-17 for 109 yards and a TD.
Hayden said ending Lafayette's frustration in the playoffs is just the beginning.
"It's a step in the process. "We've got to get back to the drawing board, watch film, practice hard and go from here."
North Hardin 0 0 6 0— 6
Lafayette 0 7 10 7—24
L—Bubba Johnson 2 run (Matt Green kick). L—Green 44 field goal. NH—Vincent Davs 1 run (conversion failed). L—Johnson 44 run (Green kick) L—Tanner Napier 39 pass from Matthew Britt (Green kick).
Records—North Hardin 6-5; Lafayette 6-5