At 5-foot-8, 206 pounds, broad-shouldered L.J. Warfield is built to carry a load.
The Bryan Station senior running back did just that Friday night, turning in a strong second half to help carry the Defenders to a rollicking 35-29 come-from-behind victory at Tates Creek.
Bryan Station first-year coach Craig Yeast was as excited as his players after their first city win of the year.
"We have a goal to win the city, and this was the first step toward that goal," Yeast said. "It was a fantastic game. We just continued to fight and were able to pull it out."
Bryan Station trailed 22-6 at halftime, but it didn't take long to catch up.
Warfield lit the fuse on the rally with a 48-yard dash down the right sideline for a touchdown on the fourth play of the third quarter.
Ora Johnson hit Kenyon Hippe with a two-point pass to make it 22-14, and the Defenders were ready to roll toward their fourth win in five games this season.
"I think once I got going, it set everybody else off," said Warfield, who rushed for 168 of his 173 yards in the second half. He also had two TDs.
Elijah Burdette forced a Tates Creek fumble minutes later, and Bryan Station capitalized.
Everett Talbert scored on a short run, then tacked on the two-pointer to tie it 22-22.
The Defenders took their first lead on Warfield's 3-yard TD with 5:55 left in the game, but Tates Creek tied it on Martrell Berry's 17-yard TD pass to TaVon Dunn just over a minute later.
After the Commodores failed to pull off an onside kick, Bryan Station took over at the 50 and went in for the go-ahead TD. Talbert got it from the 1 with 1:45 left.
Tates Creek dominated the first half, with Dennis Oxendine rushing for almost 100 yards and three TDs.
What did Yeast tell his team at halftime?
"I told them they had 24 minutes left to glory, that we're the Defenders and we don't give up. We play until it's all zeroes (on the scoreboard), and I guaranteed we'd win if we continued to fight."
Yeast wasn't surprised by Warfield's performance.
"These last few games L.J. has been running like a madman. I'm happy for him and I'm happy for our team.'
"This is a big win for our program, and we're excited right now."
Warfield didn't have to do it alone. Johnson passed for 116 yards. Hippe and Tyus Alcorn combined for five catches and 78 yards. LeDarius Jackson also ran for a TD.
"They've got two really good running backs in War-field and Jackson," Tates Creek Coach Mike Harmon said. "They put it on their shoulders and they responded."
Talbert, Burdette, Raking Young and Charles Randle led the Defenders' defense that limited Tates Creek to 125 yards in the second half.
The game was marred by penalties from start to finish. There were 23 flags for 234 yards, and several were very costly to Tates Creek.
One kept a Bryan Station scoring drive alive in the red zone. Another wiped out a Tates Creek TD that would've given the hosts the lead early in the fourth quarter.
Oxendine had a big night for the Commodores. He rushed for 26 times for 179 yards and three scores.
Terrell Moore and R.J. Taylor led the defense.
Harmon was proud of the way his team bounced back after last week's embarrassing 55-8 loss at Scott County.
"But we're still making way too many mistakes," he said. "We're six games into the season. We've got to clean things up."
Bryan Station 0 6 16 13—35
Tates Creek 6 16 0 7—29
TC—Dennis Oxendine 3 run (kick failed). BS—LeDarius Jackson 2 run (kick blocked). TC—Oxendine 2 run (Oxendine run). TC—Oxendine 27 run (Casey Grimes run). BS—L.J. Warfield 48 run (Kenyon Hippe pass from Ora Johnson) BS—Everett Talbert 2 run (Talbert run). BS—Warfield 3 run (Michael Morton kick). TC—TaVon Dunn 17 pass from Berry (Jake Ryan kick). BS—Talbert 1 run (conversion failed).
Records—Bryan Station 4-1; Tates Creek 2-4