McCracken County junior safety Nate Helmich returned the opening kickoff to midfield during Friday night’s matchup against Bowling Green at El Donaldson Field. He also had a second-quarter interception. The Mustangs, however, would suffer their first loss of the season, 28-12.

BOWLING GREEN — Marc Clark didn’t use the ol’ coaching cliché on Friday night.

He could’ve against his alma mater, however, and no one would’ve thought differently.

After spending the first two quarters shutting out Bowling Green and its outstanding running back in Javeius “Javy” Bunton on El Donaldson Field, the Purples bruised McCracken County for 28 second-half points, on their way to a 28-12 win.

Bunton scored all four touchdowns, and of his 187 yards on 27 carries, more than 150 of them came after the halftime hiatus.

“I think our defense played great all night,” Clark said. “But they could only hold the rope for so long without generating anything really offensively. We just couldn’t get going. We wanted to start off with our run game, and then we were thinking we could get into some hurry-up offense. But we just never could get anything going. Possession after possession.”

The Mustangs still had a 6-0 lead at halftime, however, courtesy of the second drive of the night, as quarterback Pryor Lamb converted not once, but twice, on fourth down. The first came on an out route to the left sideline: 16 yards for a wide open Zack Masek. On fourth-and-10 from the BG 11-yard-line, Lamb would roll out and find Nick Masek for the 11-yard score.

Undoubtedly, the Mustangs would later lament a missed scoring chance on the game’s first drive. Nate Helmich returned the opening kickoff to midfield, and three completions from Lamb combined with two rushes from senior back Hunter Bradley for a total 27 yards had the Mustangs inside the 5-yard-line. An offsides penalty from the Purples put the Mustangs even closer, but four cracks from inside the 1-yard-line came up empty against one of the state’s top rushing defenses.

Bradley finished with 50 yards on 17 carries, easily his lowest total of the season and more than 120 yards short of his average through the first four games of 2020.

Helmich’s interception midway through the second quarter provided another opportunity for the Mustangs to go up two scores, but both teams would go three-and-out twice more before the break.

Bunton’s first touchdown came with 7:12 left in the third quarter, and capped an 11-play, 72-yard drive from the Purples. McCracken’s next drive stalled behind a bad snap that went for a loss of 12 yards, and the Purples would pounce again on the next possession, as gashes of 31, 16 and 15 yards from Bunton set up his lead-grabbing score with 2:21 left in the third quarter.

Lamb’s lone miscue, an interception to Ross Millet over the middle, set the table for Bowling Green’s third score. The Purples did face third-and-12, and quarterback Connor Cooper faced a blitz. However, he calmly hit Tyler Strode over the middle, and he’d rumble for 44 yards ... Bunton scoring from 8 yards out with 11:54 left in regulation.

“They’re pretty good, and (Bowling Green’s) left tackle is a big man,” Clark added. “And they can just create a way and a lane for (Bunton).

“But we’ve just got to get better. There’s a lot of stuff that we’ll learn. This can’t be a loss in vain. That’s the biggest thing. If we’re going to lose, we’ve got to make sure we learn something from this loss. That’s our goal right now: just to learn something from this loss.”


McCracken County 6 0 0 6—12

Bowling Green 0 0 14 14—28


MC: Nick Masek 11 pass from Pryor Lamb (PAT failed), 6-0, 2:34 1Q

BG: Javeius Bunton 9 run (Colin Fratus kick), 7-6, 7:12 3Q

BG: Bunton 2 run(Fratus kick), 14-6, 2:21 3Q

BG: Bunton 8 run (Fratus kick), 21-6, 11:54 4Q

BG: Bunton 3 run (Fratus kick), 28-6, 6:00 4Q

MC: Carter Roland 3 pass from Lamb (2 pt. fails), 28-12, 3:02 4Q



MC: Pryor Lamb 15-28-1-131; BG: Connor Cooper 13-20-1-120.


MC: Hunter Bradley 17-50, Pryor Lamb 1-8, Jeremiah Hughes 4-(-8); BG: Javy Bunton 27-187, Connor Cooper 11-32, Matrix Halcomb 4-12, Tyler Strode 1-7, Dillon Maners 2-5.


MC: Zack Masek 4-39, Hunter Bradley 4-36, Zach Sims 2-22, Nick Masek 2-18, Jeremiah Hughes 3-13, Carter Roland 1-3; BG: Tyler Strode 4-61, Jordan Dingle 5-32, Will Vale 2-14, Javy Bunton 2-13.


McCracken County 4-1, Bowling Green 3-1.

Follow Marlowe on Twitter @dreamarlowe85, call him (270) 575-8661, or email him at emarlowe@paducahsun.com.

Follow Marlowe on Twitter @dreamarlowe85, call him (270) 575-8661, or email him at emarlowe@paducahsun.com.

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