Lafayette's Generals outranked and outmuscled Dixie Heights' Colonels — at least in in the first half — and that was enough for a 28-14 victory in the first round of the Class 6A football playoffs Friday night.
Host Lafayette made a 28-0 halftime lead hold up as it advanced in the playoffs for the second year in a row.
Lafayette (8-3) will visit Campbell County (4-7) next week. The Camels beat Tates Creek 22-20 Friday night.
The Generals didn't look sharp against Dixie Heights. They had four turnovers and 76 yards worth of penalties.
But they survived.
Lafayette Coach Carl Hayden saw all the warts, but he also saw a big win.
"This time of year, 'W's' do it," he said.
Senior star Bubba Johnson had the same take on the Generals' spotty performance.
"It doesn't matter how ugly or how good, it's just if you get that 'W,' " he said.
Johnson put a huge dent in Dixie Heights' defense. He rushed 28 times for 218 yards — pushing him over 1,000 for the season — and three touchdowns. He rarely went down on a first hit as he shed tacklers all night.
Looking to share the glory, Johnson thanked his coaches, offensive line, the team's trainers, and the Generals' defense.
"The defense did a great job holding 'em," he said.
Especially in the first half.
Dixie Heights was without star quarterback Zeke Pike. The Auburn recruit was suspended earlier this week for violating team rules.
The Colonels' offense looked out of sync early under the direction of sophomore Evan Hicks and senior Goose Cohorn, who's usually a standout receiver for Pike.
Dixie Heights' first five possessions netted zero yards and ended in four punts and a fumble.
"We have to set the tone as a defense, come out and be physical and get the ball for our offense so they can put points on the board," said junior linebacker Justin Carr, who along with Andy Hampton and Drew Horseman led the Generals in tackles.
Lafayette's offense didn't just have to rely on Johnson. Two of Johnson's scores were set up by Garrett Peavler passes (32 and 38 yards) to Tray Chester.
Lafayette speedster Kylan Nelson provided the highlight video of the night when he ripped off an 87-yard punt return for a score.
The Generals could have had an even easier time if they hadn't traded turnovers with Dixie Heights in the first half.
The Colonels fumbled a kickoff and a punt in the first quarter, but Lafayette didn't cash in either time.
The Generals also had an ill-timed penalty that wiped out a 60-yard TD run by Nelson on a fake punt.
Dixie Heights took the fight to Lafayette in the second half, and Cohorn had a couple short TD runs.
Hayden credited the Colonels for "never quitting and overcoming adversity." He also praised his own team for taking care of business.
That business will carry on next week at Campbell County.
"Getting to the next round of the playoffs is all we're looking to do," Carr said. "No matter how ugly it looks, the 'W' is all that matters."
Dixie Heights 0 0 7 7—14
Lafayette 7 21 0 0—28
L—Bubba Johnson 12 run (Nathan Gillespie kick). L—Johnson 11 run (Gillespie kick). L—Kylan Nelson 87 punt return (Gillespie kick). L—Johnson 3 run (Gillespie kick). DH—Goose Cohorn 5 run (J.D. Schmidt kick). DH—Cohorn 1 run (Schmidt kick).
Records—Dixie Heights 3-8; Lafayette 8-3