By Justin Sokeland
MADISON – Not even a pre-game lightning delay could delay the inevitable.
Bedford North Lawrence, scoring at will in the first half, landed the big-play blows while crushing Madison 55-19 on Friday night, setting up a titanic showdown for the Hoosier Hills Conference championship.
The Class 5A No.5 Stars (7-1) extended their winning streak to seven straight games, and they remained unbeaten in the league (5-0) as they head into a clash with No.4 Columbus East next week.
BNL, before turning its gaze, first had to dispose of the Cubs, and this mauling didn’t take long. The Stars scored four touchdowns in the first quarter, and did so in explosive, damaging fashion. McCall Ray escaped for a 65-yard TD run and fired three TD passes to ignite the expected blowout.
In fact, Ray completed only five passes, and all of them were touchdowns of 37 or more yards. Drew Shoufler, running unattended through the secondary, snagged three of them. Everything was easy – almost too easy. BNL’s starting units saw little action after cruising to a 41-6 lead at halftime.
If any danger of a trap game, with the East showdown looming, existed, the evidence was lacking. BNL took this step toward the HHC title very seriously.
”The guys were ready,” BNL coach Steve Weber said. “We worry about what we can do, we did a good job of getting ready.”
“We went in confident, but we didn’t overlook them,” defensive back James Underwood said. “You have to respect them as an opponent, as a football team. You have to keep playing tough.”
Ray ripped off his long run on the second play. After fumbling the snap, he weaved outside and left the Cubs in the dust only 33 seconds into the contest. The second possession was one play, with Ray lofting a 42-yard strike to Shoufler, and the rout was already evolving.
The Ray-Shoufler connection worked again from 37 yards for a 21-0 lead with 7:31 left in the opening quarter, and the third time was charming as well, a 47-yard bull’s-eye with little defensive resistance. Madison played man-to-man and paid the price.
”It’s been a while since we’ve seen that,” said Shoufler, who usually draws more attention as one of the state’s top receivers.
Skyler Bates took a simple swing pass and roared 53 yards for the next score, and BNL capped its fiery first half with a 67-yard bomb to Derek Hutchens, who was so wide open it was stunning.
“You have to take those shots at them,” Weber said. “If they’re going to load the box, the easiest route is in the air.”
BNL’s reserves added two second-half scores as Dillon Standifer bulled over from 3 yards midway through the third, and back-up quarterback Dalton Nikirk dove over from a yard (after his 50-yard jaunt got the Stars rolling).
Ray was 5-of-9 for 246 yards and the five first-half TDs. Shoufler’s three catches totaled 126 yards.
Madison, which got on the board with two Tristan Storie field goals in the first half, added two late scores against fresh white jerseys on the BNL defense as quarterback Luke Ommen, on fourth down, hit Baylor Ruble from 10 yards early in the fourth quarter and Dalton Berry blasted in from 4 yards with 48 seconds left. The Cubs fell to 1-7 overall (1-4 in the league).
BNL can now start preparing for the Olympians. The Stars are the last conference team to conquer East, way back in 2006.
“This is it,” Weber said. “Now we have to go out there and do it. Give our best effort. That’s all we can do.”
“East is the one that has to be stressing,” Underwood said. “We have to give it our all.”
East crushed Jeffersonville 50-3 on Friday night.
Bedford NL 28 13 7 7 – 55
Madison 3 3 0 13 – 19
BNL – McCall Ray, 65 run (Ethan Baer kick) 11:37; BNL – Drew Shoufler, 42 pass from Ray (Baer kick) 9:52; BNL – Shoufler, 37 pass from Ray (Baer kick) 7:31; M – Tristan Storie, 37 field goal, 1:59; BNL – Shoufler, 47 pass from Ray (Baer kick) 1:22
BNL – Skyler Bates, 34 pass from Ray (Baer kick) 10:02; BNL – Derek Hutchens, 67 pass from Ray (kick failed) 4:59; M – Storie, 30 field goal, 0:21
BNL – Dillon Standifer, 3 run (Baer kick) 5:43
M – Baylor Ruble, 10 pass from Luke Ommen (Alex Mason kick) 9:31; BNL – Dalton Nikirk, 1 run (Baer kick), 4:33; M – Dalton Berry, 4 run (pass failed) 0:48
BNL – First downs 9 (8 by run, 1 by pass); Rushing 20-269; Passing 6-11-0-258; Total yards 527; Fumbles 2 (lost 0); Penalties 4-30
Madison – First downs 13 (9 by run, 4 by pass); Rushing 49-136; Passing 7-19-0-100; Total yards 236; Fumbles 0; Penalties 6-45
Rushing – (BNL) Ray 3-115, Martin 2-24, Deckard 3-14, Bates 1-12, Allen 3-25, Standifer 4-12, Rhorer 1-0, Nikirk 3-67; (M) Humes 26-99, Omen 7-2, Mandrell 3-7, Barnes 1-(-2), Livingston 4-8, Jones 1-6, Stockdale 2-6, Bell 3-9, Berry 1-4
Passing – (BNL) Ray 5-9-0-246, Nikirk 1-2-0-12; (M) Ommen 6-18-0-89, Humes 1-1-0-11
Receiving – (BNL) Shoufler 3-126, Bates 1-53, Hutchens 1-67, Baer 1-12; (M) Foy 1-39, Dennison 3-32, Livingston 1-8, Ommen 1-11, Wells 1-10