By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
Ken-Jah Bosley didn’t expect the Crimsons to kick the ball to him.
But, shockingly, they did.
“I was surprised,” the Madison Central senior said. “They kicked to me (early in the game), then they didn’t kick to me again. So, I figured I wouldn’t get another chance.”
He got one last chance and delivered the playoff that would help the Indians win their first playoff game in four years.
Bosley returned a kickoff 88 yards early in the fourth quarter and Madison Central went on to pick up a 40-21 win over DuPont Manual Friday in Richmond. The Indians scored the final 13 points of the game as they held off a second-half comeback from the Crimsons.
With the win, Central advances to the second round of the Class 6A Playoffs and will face defending state champion Trinity next week in Louisville.
“I knew I had to make a big play for the team,” Bosley said. “I didn’t want the memory of last week to come back after we lost such a big lead. The second half, they just out-performed us and I knew I had to make a big play and I’m glad I did.”
After letting a 23-point second-half lead slip away last week at home in an overtime loss to Knox Central, the Indians raced out to a big lead over Manual. But, once again, a seemingly comfortable advantage slowly started to slip away.
Back-to-back touchdowns by the Crimsons — a 47-yard fumble return for a TD by K.J. Beauchamp and an 11-yard TD catch by Matthew Cissell with 8:37 left in the fourth quarter — cut a 20-point lead to just 27-21.
Following Cissell’s touchdown, Bosley got his hands on the ensuing kickoff return and blasted through the left side, eventually running over the Manual kicker on his way to the end zone.
“I wanted to juke, but my momentum had me going forward so all I knew was to stiff-arm him,” Bosley said. “Luckily, it was good enough to get him to the ground.”
Bosley finished with 253 all-purpose yards — 16 rushing, 94 receiving, 99 on kick returns and 44 punt returns. The senior also had two touchdowns (one receiving).
“He’s Ken-Jah Bosley,” Central coach Bert Browne said. “I’m baffled as to why he doesn’t have a Division I offer, because he is great.”
Central’s offense wasn’t great, but it was good enough.
The Indians finished with 285 yards, highlighted by 111 yards rushing from senior Dominique Hawkins, and had two turnovers.
Central’s defense was stellar. The Indians forced four turnovers and limited a team that had averaged 230 yards a game rushing to just 181 yards on the ground and just 240 total yards.
“Stop the run,” Central senior Brandon Parks said. “That’s what defensive coordinator (David) Brumley always teaches us.”
Parks and the defense provided the first big play of the game.
Just 48 seconds in to the game, the senior defensive lineman picked up a fumble and went 43 yards untouched for a touchdown that gave Central a quick 7-0 lead.
“I got a heck of a hit on the quarterback and the ball popped out,” Parks said. “The first thing in my mind was get it and run.”
Manual pulled even just more than two minutes later when Chris Miele caught a 25-yard pass from Mason Motley.
Hawkins put the Indians back in front with 5:24 left in the first quarter. The senior came around the right side and got loose for a 57-yard TD run.
The Indians stretched their lead to 21-7 just before the half when tight end Sam Jones caught a 26-yard TD pass. A Manual defender tipped the ball and Jones juggled it before securing the catch and fighting off a couple of defenders to get into the end zone.
The lead jumped to 27-7 when Bosley caught a 26-yard catch from Hunnter Stocker in the third quarter.
Then the Crimson started to battle back.
“It worried me,” Browne said. “We were up six and I was worried, but our defense had played pretty dang well. We got the job done on defense. On offense, we did what we needed to do.”
Bosley’s kickoff return and a 1-yard TD run by senior Jamez Chenault with 3:39 left in the fourth ended Manual’s rally.
“I’m just happy we got a win,” Bosley said. “We made history.”
The Indians hadn’t won a playoff game since a first-round victory over Bullitt Central in 2008.
“It’s been a lot of work by our coaching staff and our players,” Browne said.