South Warren accomplished not one, but two goals Friday night.
Taking on Bowling Green in what has become a fierce rivalry over the past six seasons, the Spartans used their consistently stout defensive unit and made the plays they needed to on the offensive side of the ball to come away with a 10-7 win over the Purples at El Donaldson Stadium.
“I thought that was two really good teams going at it right there,” South Warren coach Brandon Smith said. “Just pounding, just battling — it was a really physical game. The thing about it is when they play different teams and we play different teams, it’s not like that. Every time we play this game it is just flat-out physical.”
Not only did South record the important Class 5A, District 2 victory and even the all-time series against Bowling Green at 3-3, but it also captured its 100th all-time win since becoming a program in 2011.
With the game still scoreless, the Spartans — who are off to a 3-0 start to the 2020 campaign — put together a long 20-play, 96-yard drive that lasted over nine minutes that stretched from the third quarter into the fourth and capped it with a 21-yard field goal by Eldar Dervisevic to take a 3-0 lead.
“It was almost, ‘Who’s gonna score first?’,” Smith said. “I was thinking that it was gonna take the wind out of the sails for whoever could get on the scoreboard first. We had opportunities and didn’t convert; I thought they had opportunities and didn’t convert. Once we got that three points, it seemed like there was a little more step and a little more sense of urgency.”
That series — followed up by quarterback Caden Veltkamp’s five-yard touchdown run just under five minutes later — put South Warren up 10-0. Bowling Green (2-1) was able to cut its deficit to 10-7 with running back Javy Bunton’s three-yard TD run, but that didn’t come until there was just 19.6 seconds remaining and the Purples ran out of time.
“I was proud of us for holding them to the field goal — and it looked like we were countering to that and were gonna have to put together an identical drive — but we were still trying to get our breath from the 20-play drive,” Bowling Green coach Mark Spader said. “I didn’t know it was 20, but it sure felt like it. That’s pretty accurate.”
South Warren finished with 317 total yards of offense, while Bowling Green tallied 227.
Veltkamp finished 20-of-31 passing for 172 yards and rushed for 11 yards on three carries, while running back Kobe Martin had 116 yards on 22 carries and made four receptions for 30 yards.
“It was huge,” Veltkamp said of being able to get the win. “It took us a while (to get going). We put together some really good drives — we just didn’t finish them off. That’s what we said at halftime; ‘We’ve gotta finish these drives. If we do that, we win the game.'”
Purples’ quarterback Conner Cooper went 8-for-19 for 116 yards and carried the ball seven times for 20 yards, and Bunton had 70 yards on 20 attempts.
Bowling Green will try to bounce back next Friday at home vs. McCracken County. South Warren currently doesn’t have a game scheduled for next week.
“I never questioned our kids’ effort,” Spader said. “The intensity and effort were there from both teams all night. I don’t question any of that about our team. Their heart was in it. We have to get in here and watch film tomorrow. We’re not saying ‘goodbye’ to our seniors, and we’re not planning a banquet — the season moves on.”