By Travis Whitton
For The Herald Bulletin
LAPEL, Ind. —
What appeared in the beginning to be a Senior Night massacre of the visiting Beech Grove Hornets turned into a nail-biter for the Lapel Bulldogs as they hung on for a 34-32 home victory.
Bulldogs quarterback Brady Cherry got the scoring started at the nine-minute mark of the first quarter as he capped off a six-play, 29-yard drive to give Lapel (3-6, 2-4 Indiana Crossroads Conference) a 6-0 lead.
Beech Grove (2-7, 1-6 ICC) running back Mitchel Messamore countered the Cherry score with a 2-yard run of his own as the first quarter clock expired, and after two failed 2-point attempts the game was knotted at 6-6 after the opening period.
The next 13 minutes proved pivotal as Lapel got on the board three times for a total of 22 points and led 28-6 with less than a minute off the clock in the third quarter.
Super junior Joe Hart stung the Hornets defense by scoring two of the three touchdowns over that span. He had runs of five and 28 yards that went for six points while Bailey Partington had a 16-yard reception from Cherry for the other score.
In the second half, Lapel struggled to contain Jamal Brumfield. He scored three times, two coming on runs of 2 and 45 yards, respectively, and the other on a 12-yard reception from backup quarterback Chase Andries.
Messamore started the Beech Grove second-half scoring explosion with another 2-yard run in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs held a comfortable 28-6 lead with Hart’s score to start the second half, but the game-changing play might have been his 65-yard breakaway run with 2:52 left in the third quarter. That put Lapel up 34-19 and proved to be the difference.
Lapel was outscored 26-12 in the second half and 13-0 in the fourth quarter but managed to hold on with a big fourth-quarter defensive stand.
Andries hit Brumfield for 11 yards to get in Bulldogs' territory with less than two minutes remaining. The visiting quarterback threw three straight incompletions and on fourth down scrambled to make a play before senior Bobby Steele brought him to the ground to end the threat with mere seconds left.
Hart led all rushers with 184 yards on 33 carries for Lapel and also chipped in two grabs for 38 yards. Seniors Dane Mason and Partington finished with 32 and 21 yards receiving, respectively.
Cherry went 10-of-24 for 125 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Beech Grove was led in rushing by Messamore with 20 carries and 70 yards and two scores. Quarterbacks Robbie Stevens and Andries combined to go 18 of 30 for 156 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Ben Neff finished with seven grabs for 64 yards to lead the Hornets.
Lapel coach Tim Miller wasn’t available immediately following the game.