By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
There wasn’t much anyone could say to Madison Central coach Bert Browne that would take away the sting of a 41-21 loss Friday at home to Henry Clay.
Still, he did find some comfort in a comment from an unlikely source.
“After the game, the referee told me, ‘Your kids fight their (butts) off,’” Browne said. “For me, that makes me feel good because when it’s going bad, kids will quit. Our kids don’t quit.”
The Indians didn’t quit against the undefeated Blue Devils (6-0).
But, with a banged-up roster full of mostly freshmen and sophomores, they simply didn’t have the firepower to hang with one of the better Class 6A teams in the state.
Davion Jackson and Elijah Bell combined for 304 yards rushing and four touchdowns as the Blue Devils racked up 508 total yards. Jackson had three touchdowns and 157 yards on six carries. Bell finished with 147 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries.
Henry Clay also got touchdown receptions from Austin Black (44 yards, 25 yards).
The loss was the fifth-straight for the Indians (1-6).
Central trailed just 14-7 late in the second quarter.
The Indians were driving towards a potential game-tying touchdown when freshman quarterback Zach Hardin was intercepted at the Henry Clay 31-yard line.
The Blue Devils scored twice in the final 3:21 of the first half to take a 27-7 lead into the break.
After the interception, Jackson got loose on a 48-yard TD run on fourth-and-three.
With 1:19 left in the half, Sammy Carter hit Black on a 44-yard touchdown pass.
“The kids are playing hard, but they are just kids,” Browne said.
At halftime, Henry Clay had 308 yards of total offense, including 214 yards on 19 rushing attempts. Bell had 113 yards on eight carries, while Jackson had 84 yards on four rushes.
Central had just 122 total yards on 38 offensive snaps in the first half.
The Indians got a 34-yard touchdown catch from John Williams early in the third quarter, but Henry Clay scored two more times later in the quarter — the first on a 69-yard Jackson run and then on a 25-yard reception by Black.
Henry Clay marched right down the field on its first two possessions.
It took the Blue Devils just two plays and 41 seconds to get into the end zone on their opening drive. Bell got loose on a 64-yard run for a score.
“Bell is so strong for a kid who is so fast and quick,” Browne said.
On their next possession, the Devils needed four plays and 1:12 to once again get on the board — this time on a 14-yard run by Jackson that gave his team a 14-7 lead.
Central’s offense looked sharp on its first possession. The Indians got a big kickoff return from Johan Williams, then went 25 yards on six plays, capped by a 1-yard TD run by Caleb McClurg that tied the game (7-7) with 8:36 left in the first quarter.
McClurg scored Central’s only other touchdown as well. The senior caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Hardin with 34 seconds left in the game.
Johan Williams had 63 yards rushing on 20 carries, while McClurg had a team-best eight catches for 71 yards.
Hardin was 15-of-30 for 161 yards, with two touchdown and an interception.
Central is set to open district play next week at Tates Creek.