The Bullitt East Chargers shocked the Commonwealth with a one-point win over powerhouse Louisville Male. As a result, the Chargers captured their first-ever state championship. They were led by Travis Egan, who provided a performance that will put him down in history as one of the greatest players from Bullitt.
The game’s first play was a Male 74-yard touchdown pass from senior QB Lucas Cobler to junior WR Max Gainey. It was a beautiful play drawn up by the Male coaching staff, as a screen opened up Gainey for a huge play. The junior, who has been battling injuries all year, made one cut to the sideline, then was off to the house.
A first-play touchdown is rare, especially in a championship game. However, the Bulldogs weren’t entirely done yet. After a quick run from Bullitt East to start their drive, tragedy struck the Chargers. The Bulldog pass rush got after Bulliett QB Travis Egan, and as he was being sacked, the ball slipped out. Male’s Korrey “Scoop” Mattingly II picked up the ball and took it for a 16-yard scoop-and-score.
For all my math people out there, the Bulldogs scored twice in the first 56 seconds of game time — WOW.
On the ensuing drive, it was time for the Chargers to answer. Finally, Bullitt East began to piece a drive together. However, the Bulldogs’ defense stood true again and forced a fumble. That play marked two turnovers in around two minutes of game time.
On the next Male possession, they had a chance to put the game out of reach. A 21-0 start in a championship game is Alabama-like. Luckily, the Chargers finally woke up and forced a giant three-and-out. The next possession showed why Egan and the Chargers deserved to be at Kroger field. It was a 6:25-second drive that saw Bullitt East run, pass, and block their way to the Bulldog five. On fourth and goal from the five, Charger head coach Keegan Kendrick called a speed option.
Unfortunately, this didn’t work as the Bulldogs captured momentum again.
Male– 14, Bullitt East- 0
It was now Male’s turn for a long drive. The Bulldogs rattled off 11 plays, 92 yards, and 4:52 in their second drive, moving the ball to the Charger 13. However, on a 4th and 1 run from the 10, Male star RB Daniel Swinney fumbled the ball back to Bullitt East. In almost identical drives, neither team was able to capitalize.
Egan turned it to ten as he threw an absolute dime. His bullet was good for a measly 73-yard touchdown pass to Camron Brogan to light the Chargers ablaze.
On the ensuing possession, Bullitt East stopped Male on a 4th-and-short to get the ball back. This marked the second drive in a row that Male could not capitalize on a risky fourth-down call. Then, a steady dose of Egan rushes brought Bullitt East into the red zone. A 12-yard touchdown pass by Egan to Mason Gauthier ended the half on an extremely high note for Bullitt.
Egan has had one of the best seasons in the entire 6th Region. He finished the regular season with 2649 yards passing with 31 touchdowns while only throwing five interceptions.
Male– 14, Bullitt East– 14
The third quarter brought the return of the Male offense. It was a field goal by Lance Gossett with 5:18 seconds left in the third that gave Male the lead back. However, the FG was no chip shot, it was a 37-yarder with the smaller college goal posts, and it went right down the middle.
Male then forced a Bullitt East three-and-out that gave them the ball back with their first sniff of momentum since the first. Then, Lucas Cobbler matched the efforts of Egan with four rushing attempts that brought the Bulldogs into the redzone. Cobbler then made a house call as he delivered a beautiful ball to tight end Andrew Vrbancic for a 27-yard touchdown.
Male– 24, Bullitt East– 14
After a few defensive stops from both sides, the game began to lean toward the Bulldogs. But hen you thought it could be over, Egan decided it was his time to shine. He then threw a 17-yard dime to Nolan Davenport to bring the Chargers within four.
The ensuing drive was one of the longest of the day. Male began to rely on one of the best players in 6A, power running back Daniel Sweeney, to ice the game away. After milking nearly seven minutes off the clock, the Bulldogs settled for a field goal. This field goal extended their lead to seven and dwindled the clock down to 1:43.
The odds were stacked against the Chargers, but you wouldn’t know that by the sound of the crowd. The Bullitt County faithful were beyond ecstatic about their opportunity for a first state championship, and they were not going to let that slip away. The tension in the air at Kroger Field felt like a prime Governor’s Cup matchup.
It was make or break time; or to put it better… it was championship time.
Bullitt County received the ball down seven with less than two minutes left. The nearly 10,000 people in attendance all collectively rose to their feet for the final drive. As he did all game, Travis Egan provided the relaxed and calming presence that the Chargers desperately needed. He fired four straight completions for 64 yards to bring Bullitt East into the redzone.
With 53 seconds left on the clock, Egan delivered a ball that looked in slow motion into the hands of Camron Brogan for a 16-yard touchdown.
You’re down one, less than a minute on the clock, state championship; what do you do? Coach Kendrick decided it was winning time. As the Chargers lined up for the two-point attempt, the 4th down failures throughout the game flashed before the eyes of fans across Kroger Field. He called on Doug Peterson to recreate one of the most famous plays in sports history.
After a double pitch in the backfield, Egan began to make a beeline for the endzone corner. Nolan Davenport then found Egan wide-open like he was Nick Foles in Super Bowl LII. One of the most important calls — and plays — in the history of the Kentucky state championships.
New Kids on the Block
A poetic way to end the streak of Male, St. Xavier, and Trinity’s domination. Bullitt County is only the second team not in that group to win a 6A championship. The scenes of the celebration amongst fans and players alike showed how much this meant to the people of Bullitt. For a long time, if your chest didn’t say St. Xavier, Male, or Trinity, it wasn’t worth fighting for an appearance at Kroger Field.
However, Bullitt County not only showed that the underdogs could do it, but also dominated the region throughout the year.
On the other hand, this is a ginormous blow to Louisville Male. This loss marks their fourth loss in a row in the state championship game. It is beyond impressive to make it to that point more than once, let alone four times. The Bulldogs have put themselves in the same category as the infamous early 90’s Buffalo Bills; they were just never able to do it on the big stage. All credit to Male and Bullitt County for providing the best game I have seen all year.